Garcia Re-files Medicaid Expansion But House Isn't Budging

Jan 22, 2014

Top Republicans in the Florida Legislature have shown little interest in expanding Medicaid in the state. Despite that, Democrats say they’ll keep pushing for the expansion. Now a Senate Republican has re-filed a failed 2013 proposal to expand the program to more low-income Floridians.

Last session the Florida House and Senate failed to reach an agreement on extending health insurance coverage to more low income Floridians. The Senate wanted to use more than 50-billion federal dollars to help eligible Floridians purchase private health plans, while the House proposal would have insured far fewer people using state funds. Now Miami Republican Senator Rene Garcia has re-filed the Senate’s plan – even though he knows it’ll be a tough sell in the House:

“I’m going to keep on pushing for it. I think, um, regardless of its an election year or not--the conversation needs to be had and we need to educate people on what we’re trying to do here in the state of Florida, and that’s the whole purpose of pushing this forward," Garcia said.

House Speaker Will Weatherford said in a statement , that he  “likes the House’s free market approach to healthcare." Garcia says he hopes the bill will be a starting point for more negotiations between the two chambers on the issue.

Expanding Medicaid is unpopular with the Republican party base, and many of those lawmakers are up for reelection this year. Florida is in the minority of states that have refused to expand Medicaid. More than 700,000 Floridians fall into the so-called coverage gap -- meaning they don’t make enough money to qualify for federally subsidized health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, yet make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.