Backers of Senate's Healthcare Expansion Bill Join Lawmakers At The Capitol

Mar 11, 2015

Deirdre Macnab and healthcare advocates with the League of Women Voters of Florida, rally in the Capitol's Cabinet Room on Wednesday.
Credit Keta Browning / WFSU News

Florida’s League of Women Voters swarmed the Capitol on Wednesday to back the senate’s new healthcare expansion plan. Tuesday, the senate’s Health Policy Committee unanimously passed a bill that extends health insurance to more than 800,000 low income Floridians.

During a press conference Wednesday, Senator David Simmons (R-Maitland) says making way for the new system is just the beginning.

“We already are taking Medicaid moneys, a lot, billions and billions of Medicaid dollars. I would like to reform that system as well, Simmons says.” “I think this is a wonderful opportunity for us to go ahead and treat this almost like a pilot project. To get this done, certainly take down the $52 billion that belongs to Floridians and at the same time provide a model-a model that we can use that is a free enterprise, free market based model for the rest of healthcare in the state of Florida.”

The Florida AARP is also supportive of the Senate’s Medicaid expansion plan.

AARP spokesman Jack McRay, says the organization’s main interest is in the state’s 160,000 seniors that could be eligible to access the federal funds. “This is an opportunity for Florida to adopt a true investment strategy to provide access to affordable quality healthcare for a number of residents who don’t presently have that,” McRay says.

Joan Alker is the Executive Director of the Center for Children and Families at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. Alker says Florida continues to pass on federal funds that could greatly improve the state’s healthcare policy. “Florida is giving up $10 million is federal funds every single day this year because lawmakers have not yet accepted the money, ” she says. “In 2014 the state gave up $3 billion in federal funding.”

It is uncertain whether the house will support the measure. The chamber has rejected a Medicaid expansion for the past two years. The league says its members will continue working to make its case to the public on how the plan could positively impact Floridians.