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Florida legislature: Medical debt less of a concern than expanding health care to Floridians

House Speaker Jose Oliva has cited the example of other states when it comes to CS/HB 607 which would allow advanced practice registered nurses to admit, handle care in, or discharge patients from facilities. However, Speaker Oliva continues to ignore the proven positive impacts of Medicaid expansion implemented by even more states.

Based on findings in 32 other states, Medicaid expansion would clearly help hundreds of thousands of Floridians who go without any health care coverage because they do not make enough money to qualify for tax credits under the Patient and Protection Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA allows states to expand their state Medicaid program, where the federal government will pay 90% of the cost and the state the remaining 10%. Florida’s current matching Medicaid program receives about 62% of federal funding with the state having to raise the additional 38%.

The Florida legislature has consistently refused to expand Medicaid and the leadership won’t even discuss it at this point. Even while the state’s official economist warns that Florida is losing $70.4 million in Medicaid disproportionate share funding. Disproportionate share dollars are used to fund rural and children’s hospitals, state mental health facilities and graduate medical training at teaching hospitals across Florida. Meanwhile, Medicaid expansion would save the Florida budget an estimated $200 million a year.

Instead, this session (Jan 14 – Mar) lawmakers are considering a bill to permanently cut Medicaid Retroactive Eligibility from 90 days to 30 days. This shortened time to file for Medicaid pushes more and more vulnerable Floridians into medical debt.

Another health care bill introduced in both the house and senate HB1293/SB1724 never were even heard in committee. These proposals would codify the Affordable Care Act preexisting conditions protections including the one where insurers cannot increase premium rates based on a consumer's health condition.

Doesn’t it just make fiscal sense to expand the Medicaid program and make sure all Florida’s citizens have coverage for their health care needs, rather than leaving hundreds of thousands of people without care and drive millions more into medical debt?

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