On Wednesday, both chambers of the Florida legislature debated their proposed budgets, including health care. At the start of the day, both chambers were scheduled to debate amendments that would expand Medicaid eligibility to Floridians making less than 138% of the federal poverty level. The Senate Amendment was withdrawn to comply with Senate rules, but not before Sen. Taddeo delivered a compelling case for Medicaid expansion. In the House, Rep. Geller withdrew his amendment before the House convened.
While disappointing, there is too much at stake to stop now. It’s still crucial that we contact Florida's leadership and urge them to debate Medicaid expansion during this year's legislative session.
In the Senate, Sen. Aaron Bean explained that the proposed Health and Human Services budget:
Cuts funding to hospitals by 7.5% ($251 million in state and federal funds);
Eliminates optional services like vision, hearing & coverage for 19-20 y/o;
Fully funds Florida KidCare;
Accepts over $130M in federal funds for opioid addiction and veterans nursing homes;
Increases funding for the state minority health program; and
Rejects $2.5-$3.5 billion in federal funds for Medicaid expansion.
Overall, the Senate’s is proposing $300 million in cuts to Medicaid. This is due, in large part, to the pandemic related budget shortfall and the 900,000 people who have enrolled since last March. During the floor debate Sen. Shevrin Jones asked Sen. Bean about the merits of cuts versus taking a comprehensive approach that provides coverage and comes with an additional $3B in federal funds. Sen. Bean expressed being weary of 'strings-attached' that no one can be kicked off the Medicaid program.
In reality, as the economy recovers in the coming years, fewer people will be eligible for Medicaid at the end of the two-year period of the enhanced funding. Additionally, Medicaid expansion would save the state about $200 million a year while covering more people. Finally, in the 50+ year history of the Medicaid program, not once has the federal government dropped their Medicaid match rates for the states. There is no evidence that the federal government will start now.
Though there wasn’t any debate on expansion in the House, Rep. Avila, Chair of the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee shared the highlights of their proposed budget. It features over $500 million in cuts to Medicaid, and:
An extension of postpartum Medicaid to 12 months.
A continuation of the cut to 90 day Medicaid retroactive eligibility, limiting retroactive coverage to the first day of the month in which someone applies.
Additional funding for the state’s veterans nursing homes
Reliance on low-income pool funding from the federal government
Requires nursing homes to submit uniform reporting data
A full budget will have to pass both the Senate and the House this session. They have until April 30, the end of the legislative session, to pass the budget.
With one-click, email Florida’s legislative leadership and urge them to consider the savings from Medicaid expansion instead of harmful cuts to Florida’s most vulnerable.