Florida Senate Pushes A 'FHIX' For Medicaid Expansion

Apr 14, 2015

While the federal government has prolonged talks of expanding Florida’s Medicaid program, statewide business leaders head to the Capitol in support of the Senate’s proposed solution.

Senate President Andy Gardiner speaks at the Historic State Capitol with business leaders from across the state.
Credit Keta Browning / WFSU News

Business leaders from across the state and members of A Healthy Florida Works coalition joined Sen. President Andy Gardiner in the Historic Capitol Tuesday, for a press conference aimed at getting a move on improving the state’s healthcare crisis.

Gardiner wants the Florida House to consider the Senate’s proposed health care solution, which includes the Florida Health Insurance Affordability exchange program. He says the Senate won’t take no for an answer.

“No is not a healthcare policy and we stand here to address this issue. LIP as we know it is going to change and LIP as we know it is going away. We better have a solution to fill the problem that’s going to come with that,” says Gardiner.

Gardiner wants to ensure that if the federal government were to back away from its commitment to the state, tax payers won’t be left to foot the bill.

Dan Lindblade is President of the Greater Ft Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. He says Florida’s businesses owners are already being taxed.

“Not only are our businesses shouldering the cost of uncompensated care in our state, but as of January 1st federal employer mandates kicked in and many businesses will face financial penalties if they do not provide healthcare coverage to full time employees and their dependents,” says Lindblade.

Lindblade says these mandates would cost Florida businesses an estimated 250 million dollars a year in tax penalties.

Julio Fuentes, President and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, says the FHIX proposal is separate from Medicaid.

“The FHIX program is not an expansion of Medicaid, it is a free market approach that would utilize private health insurance plans to increase access to healthcare coverage to 800,000 Floridians,” says Fuentes. But it does still reply on federal Medicaid money.

Fuentes says personal accountability is a feature of the FHIX program by making those eligible pay a minimal monthly premium. The measure also adds employment and education requirements.

As a maintenance man in Brevard County, Mike Young falls in that eligibility gap. He says he works hard for his money and takes offense to the idea that the Senate’s plan is a give-a-way.

“I don’t want a hand out, I pay taxes just like everyone else and I know that money goes to Washington, and I know we should get it back,” says Young.

If the House approves the Senate’s proposal, the FHIX program will have a start date of July 1, 2015 and will offer existing Medicaid Managed Care Plans immediately. But the House remains opposed to the Senate plan, and so is Gov. Rick Scott.