Health care expansion, funding standoff in Florida continues

House makes first offer, which would come from tax cuts


TALLAHASEE, Fla. – The first sign of a thaw in frosty relations at the state Capitol over health care expansion and funding has surfaced, but the reaction has been too little, too late.

Florida stands to lose more than $1 billion in federal money used to pay hospitals who provide care to people who can't pay. The funds are being cut off the state hasn't expanded heath care for the working poor.

Eight weeks into the $4 billion standoff between the Senate, who wants to expand health care, and a House that doesn't, the House finally made a first offer -- just $200 million, which would come from tax cuts sought by the governor.

It's not sitting well with Senators.

"It's big hole. People are going to go without health care. Hospitals are going to close," Sen. Jack Latvala said. "You know, we have to deal with that."

Meanwhile games are being played.

The House is refusing to take up a Senate-favored online voter registration bill. It's been on the calendar eight days.

Earlier this week, Gov. Rick Scott called Senators to his office and threatened them with vetoes if they didn't get on board with the House plan. So far that's not working.

"When you say to a senator or a representative for that matter all your bills are dead and all your appropriations will be vetoed, you create no way forward," Sen. Don Gaetz said.

Scott was asked about the House's offer.

"I'm focused on making sure we get the $670 million in tax cuts. Historic per pupil funding for education and college affordability, so I'm going to continue to work on that," Scott said.
"The House offer takes the money from the tax cuts," reporter Mike Vasilinda said.
"Bye bye. See you guys," Scott said.

Other causalities in the health care standoff might include some of the governor's agency heads. So far the Senate has refused to confirm any of them.

Each day of a special or extended legislative session is estimated to cost $65,000.