Lawmakers push for health care expansion

Expansion needed for working poor

Author: Matt Horn, Reporter, Capitol News Service
Published On: Jan 27 2014 04:55:10 PM EST
health care
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Florida is in the minority of states when it comes to expanding health care to the working poor, but Floridians say the state needs to expand benefits so more people can receive life-saving health care.

Uninsured Floridians like Nikki Hall are meeting with navigators to sort out questions on health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

"I had absolutely no clue about how to even go about maneuvering my way throughout it, so this has been a big help, a large help, shed a lot of light on a subject I had no clue about,” Hall said.

Navigator Jasmine Burney said it’s essential for Floridians to sign up for coverage.

“It's extremely important for people to get set up and aligned and enrolled in health care, simply because there is a penalty that will be associated in the event that they do not enroll for the March 31 deadline,” Burney said.

Twenty-seven states are already expanding Medicaid and three are considering it. Florida killed the expansion last year, but some lawmakers are pushing for it this year. It resembles a 2013 bill that passed through the Senate, but failed to make it out of the House.

The 2013 expansion would have insured 900,000 Floridians, paid for with $52 billion from the federal government. A skeptical Gov. Rick Scott suggested taking the money for three years, then deciding again.

“The question is, is the federal government going to fund what they said they're going to fund?” asked Scott.

Those signing up for coverage said health care is critical for people’s livelihood.

“I’m sure there are people today who are going to die, who don’t have health care, or don’t feel comfortable going in because they can’t afford it," said Amy Datz, who has signed up for health care. "It’d wipe them out.”

A University of Florida research estimated an expansion would create more than 100,000 jobs.

Rep. Amanda Murphy is the lawmaker introducing this year’s Medicaid expansion bill.