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Lawmakers head-to-head on health insurance

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Lawmakers denied health care expansion that could have insured hundreds of thousands of Floridians lacking health insurance. A majority of their own insurance plans are taxpayer funded, even though many cited that expanded health care would create a taxpayer funded entitlement program.

Up until last year, Florida House members had only been paying $8 a month for a $22,000 health insurance plan and $30 a month for a family plan.

"I know an entitlement when I see one," Rep. John Wood said.

Many House Republicans said that expanding Medicaid in the state meant taxpayers would be on the hook for insurance costs for the poor. Some state legislators tried to point out that Floridians are already paying for lawmakers' health coverage.

"Before you condemn this plan, remember that this body has, for years, enjoyed a Cadillac health care plan that is heavily subsidized by the citizens of Florida," Rep. Amanda Murphy said.

Out of the 160 members in the legislature, 145 are enrolled in the state's health plan.

The insurance plan costs $22,000 a year. Lawmakers pay $180 a month for a family, or $50 a month for individual coverage. The average Floridian pays around $1,300 for a family premium. Rep. Ray Pilon was one of a few Republicans that voted yes for expansion.

"For my constituents, I can answer it very simply. I think we ought to pay the same exact price as every other Florida employee and that those rates should be appropriate," Pilon said.

Republican Matt Gaetz voted no.

"We work here as state representatives and part of our compensation is health care," Gaetz said. "Frankly, I think that the health care we receive is too good."

Gov. Rick Scott proposed increasing state employee health insurance rates for the past five years. Lawmakers keep rejecting it.