Feds To Florida: We're Willing To Talk About Medicaid Expansion

Jan 23, 2015

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell
Credit U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell says her agency is open to negotiating with states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs to more people.

Florida is one of nearly half the states which have chosen not to allow more people into their Medicaid programs  under the Affordable Care Act. That decision means in the Sunshine State, nearly a million people people make too much money for traditional Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for subsidized health insurance. During a Friday trip to Jacksonville, the federal government said it's willing to negotiate with states like Florida.

“Yesterday the Governor of Alaska said he would look to do an expansion proposal in his budget. So we want to work on a state-by-state basis to provide an approach to expansion that works for the people in that state," said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

Florida is facing the loss of about $2 billion  in federal funding this year when a program that reimburses hospitals for treating low-income patients goes away.  Burwell says that money could be replaced if Florida chose to expand Medicaid, and pull down about $50 billion in additional federal funding to expand Medicaid.

The loss of those dollars, fueled by other financial concerns, has spurred organizations which previously opposed a Medicaid expansion to now say they’re willing to see it happen. It’s still up to the legislature to make a final decision.