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Congresswoman backs ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville congresswoman is backing a new initiative that would give voters the opportunity to decide if Medicaid should be expanded in Florida.

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown held a news conference Tuesday morning to announce her collaboration with the Florida Health Solutions Political Action Committee on a ballot initiative called the Creation of a Healthy Florida Plan.

The goal of the congresswoman and the PAC is to expand health care funding for the un- or under-employed in the next couple of weeks for a ballot initiative called Creation of a Healthy Florida Plan. It would expand eligibility for Medicaid in July 2017 to 133 percent of the federal poverty line and create a special revenue account to accept federal funds.

Brown said 1 million Floridians are uninsured.

"We are second in the nation with the number of people that don't have insurance because we didn't take the Medicaid expansion. We don't have a program in Florida," Brown said.

Brown and others began the ballot initiative after the Florida Legislature voted in June to continue funding the Low Income Pool, a program that compensates hospitals for treating uninsured patients, rather than expanding Medicaid.

In order for the initiative to appear on the 2016 ballot, Florida Health Solutions will have to collect more than 683,000 verified signatures on petitions. It must then pass by a 60 percent majority.