Time ticking for state Medicaid expansion

Gov. supports expansion; others unsure

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The 28 GOP-led states bringing separate lawsuits say the new law's significant expansion of the social safety net unconstitutionally "coerces" state governments.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Time is ticking for state lawmakers to readdress Medicaid expansion in Florida.

Politicians had no solution at the end of the legislative session, even after the governor came out in support of accepting federal dollars. However, supporters are still doing their part to educate state leaders.

When time does run out at the end of the year, Florida may give up $51 billion dollars on a Medicaid expansion plan.

The League of Women Voters moderated a call Wednesday on the impacts of doing nothing.

"We want to make sure Florida is a very competitive state to do business," said Jessica Lowe-Minor of League of Women Voters. "We want to make sure Floridians have the best possible healthcare."

In February, Gov. Rick Scott shocked Republicans by announcing his support of the expansion.

"Quality health care should be accessible and affordable for all Floridians," said Scott.

Medicaid expansion would provide benefits for one million working poor Floridians. The Florida Senate passed a bill supported by the governor this spring, but House Republicans refused to consider the expansion, and it died. Now, there is talk of a special session this fall.

"We've learned we can't depend on Washington, so I'll be working with Speaker Weatherford and our other legislators to try and find a Florida solution," said Republican Sen. Don Gaetz.

A big concern is if state lawmakers decide not to accept the money, more than 100,000 high paying medical jobs may not come to Florida.

At a recent meeting in Sarasota, Representative Jim Boyd told nearly 300 people that he believes lawmakers will "certainly have a lot of dialogue about it going into the fall."

Until then, the League of Women Voters will continue educating Floridians.

"We have been taking around our information to legislators who've done a lot of public events in communities," said Lowe-Minor.

If there isn't a decision by January, Florida will lose the first $5 billion in federal funding.

Nearly 25 states have decided to move forward with accepting the federal dollars. Seven are still discussing it and 20 have denied it.

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