Medicaid mayhem in Florida House

Senate passes Medicaid expansion plan, but no sign if House will vote

Published On: May 01 2013 04:09:27 PM EDT   Updated On: May 01 2013 04:53:11 PM EDT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

There is chaos in the Florida House. Democrats are using the little authority they have to slow down the process. They've joined together to have every bill read in full and they're turning every debate into a conversation about Medicaid expansion.

Now, House leadership is using technology to thwart their efforts.

A guard stood watch over the Florida House Wednesday. The Chamber was locked and a machine read legislation in fast forward. Democrats hijacked every debate.

"And so today you are playing the game with us, and we are going back and forth and that's unfortunate," said Rep. Jim Waldman (D-Coconut Creek).

The battle was sparked after the Florida House refused to accept federal money to expand Medicaid. With just a few days to go until the end of session, they're pulling out all the stops.

"We will use any tools we can just like you used them in committees," said Waldman.

"I am going to vote for this bill because I think it's a good thing, but I think we need to keep in mind the people in Florida who won't be able to take advantage of these wonderful medical procedures," said Rep. Lori Berman.

State Democrats are getting help from Washington. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was at the state capitol pushing for the expansion.

"If at the end of the day, if the end of this week comes and goes and the Republicans in Tallahassee refuse to insure a million more Floridians then they will have sickness, illness and death," said Schultz.

The Senate passed a plan to accept federal money to expand Medicaid and offer coverage to a million more Floridians. Gov. Rick Scott is also backing the expansion, but Schultz is pressing him to take a more active role.

"It's time for him to get off the sidelines, either he is for accepting those funds and is willing to use his clout and his weight and put the full weight of his office behind that position, or he's not," said Schultz.

With little time left before the end of session, talks of a fall session to address the issue are emerging.