As Florida recovers from the pandemic, this session lawmakers are faced with tens of thousands of struggling Floridians and a significant budget deficit. During this financial and public health crisis, Medicaid expansion is one of the few policy opportunities Florida has to spark our recovery.
Here is a quick summary of the landscape for Medicaid expansion in 2021 and how you can get involved.
What is Florida’s Current Health Care and Economic Situation?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida's unemployment rate is more than double what it was a year ago (6.4%). Since the pandemic, Florida Medicaid has seen an increase in enrollment of over 750,000 people due to the economic downturn in our state. Now, more than 4.5 million Floridians rely on Medicaid for health care, a number that increased 20 percent over the course of the pandemic as job losses continued, and families lost their employer-based health coverage.
In a recent South Florida Hospital News article, Florida Hospital Association CEO, Mary Mayhew, explains that “[G]oing into budget discussions this year, lawmakers must contend with a deficit of over $2 billion, including a projected $1.2 billion shortfall in general revenue for Medicaid.”
How Can Medicaid Expansion Help?
Pre-pandemic, estimates were that nearly 900,000 uninsured Floridians would gain access to health insurance care through Medicaid expansion. Researchers now estimate that over 1 million Floridians would gain coverage under expansion, including those who have lost jobs and health coverage due to COVID-19.
Additionally, the Florida Policy Institute estimates that Florida could save about $200 million in the first year alone by drawing down more federal funds to pay for expansion. Especially in a year where Florida is low on revenue, we could draw down an additional $4 billion this year alone. This investment would increase economic activity by 6-7 billion dollars and increase jobs in health care and other economic sectors.
Finally, the latest federal Covid-19 bill being debated in Congress includes additional incentives for non-expansion states. Both the House and Senate bills would give states that newly expand Medicaid a 5-percentage point increase in their base federal medical assistance percentage (or FMAP) for two years. The bump would apply to a state’s traditional Medicaid program. This is considerably larger than if the FMAP increase were applied to the Medicaid expansion group. Under this proposal Florida would receive between $3 billion (Kaiser Family Foundation) and $3.5 billion (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).
Will Medicaid Expansion Pass and How Can I Help?
Florida legislators have already introduced several Medicaid expansion bills:
SJR 276 (Sen. Taddeo and Sen. Berman): Would put expansion on the 2022 ballot. Needs three-fifths (3/5) majority vote in each Chamber to pass.
Both House bills for Medicaid expansion (HB 443/HB 341) have been referred to the Finance & Facilities Subcommittee, where we are fighting to have the issue heard and debated. The Health Care for Florida Coalition is the official campaign working to make Medicaid expansion a reality in Florida. There are several ways Floridians can get involved, including:
Share Health Care Stories - If you have a story or a good source of story leads and want to work directly with our story banker to collect stories from your community: Email us at FLVoices@HealthyFLA.org or use our online form to submit a story: www.healthcareforfl.org/share.
Recruit Friends and Family to Sign the Petition - Text MEDEX4FL to 52886 or www.healthcareforfl.org to sign the petition. Encourage your networks to sign the petition, have them enter your name in the “Referred By” field, and the top 3 referrers each month will receive a $30 Amazon gift card.
Contact Your Legislators - Email members of the Finance & Facilities Subcommittee with one click at https://www.healthcareforfl.org/action.