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Florida Speaker Offers Alternative to Medicaid Expansion April 12, 2013 , ,

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford continues to oppose Medicaid expansion, but, like almost every state official, is under intense pressure to offer an alternative proposal.

He announced a plan yesterday that would use state funds to expand coverage, tailor benefits to different patient groups, and give people the option of a Healthy Indiana-type health spending account.  An estimated 115,000 people would be newly-covered.  His white paper describing the proposal offers strong arguments against Medicaid expansion and a detailed analysis of health spending in the newly-targeted groups.

See below for his release with more detail and a link to the white paper. Key quote: “By utilizing the forces of the free market, we are providing low-income Floridians with quality options that are sustainable and will not be funded by additional federal dollars,” said Health and Human Services Chair Richard Corcoran.  “This plan provides meaningful health care options to those who need it most without risking Florida’s financial future.”

This is a good example for other states and shows how a state can assess the needs of its own citizens and target resources more efficiently than the federal government.

Here’s the release:

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford Announces “Florida Health Choices Plus” to Provide More Floridians with Quality Health Care Options

Tallahassee, FL – Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford today announced “Florida Health Choices Plus,” a policy approach to provide more Floridians with quality health care options.

“The Florida House has developed a plan that will fit the needs of Florida, not the requirements of Washington,” said Speaker Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel).  “Our plan increases our commitment to a strong safety net and ensures Floridians are not on the hook for billions that we currently do not have.”

“Florida Health Choices Plus” strengthens the safety net by providing an estimated 115,000 uninsured Floridians with coverage. The plan allows eligible adults living in poverty to fill the coverage gap created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), including parents and certain adults with disabilities, and receive access to health care at the lowest possible cost.  The proposal will cost the state $237 million annually and does not rely on federal dollars to operate.

For more information, please read the Florida House Majority Office’s overview of “Florida Health Choices Plus” online: bit.ly/FHCPlus.  To view the bill online, please click here.

“By utilizing the forces of the free market, we are providing low-income Floridians with quality options that are sustainable and will not be funded by additional federal dollars,” said Chair Corcoran.  “This plan provides meaningful health care options to those who need it most without risking Florida’s financial future.”

“Florida Health Choices Plus” was developed based on the following principles:

1.      Reject the federal government’s “all or nothing” plan.

2.      Embrace a free market solution.

3.      Strengthen the safety net.

4.      Ensure the integrity of our existing healthcare system.

5.       Protect taxpayers by only considering plans that are sustainable.

In March, the Florida House Select Committee voted against Medicaid expansion, which will cost the state of Florida $3.5 billion over the next 10 years.  Speaker Weatherford has made strengthening Florida’s safety net a priority, as reflected in the House’s proposed FY 2013-14 Budget.  The budget increases funding to serve our most vulnerable populations such as our elderly, disabled and citizens in need of mental health and substance abuse treatment.  It includes $996.3 million for Medicaid Price Level and Caseload increases and fully funds the anticipated growth of Kidcare.  It also allocates $24.2 million to increase those served on the Agency for persons with Disabilities Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Waiver by approximately 750 individuals.

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For Immediate Release:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Contact:

Ryan Duffy, (850) 717-5618

House Majority Office:

Kristen McDonald, (850) 717-5129