Guardian Report Claims Florida In 'Secret' Medicaid Expansion Talks; Lawmakers Say Not So

Nov 21, 2013

Florida legislative leaders are downplaying an article in London’s Guardian newspaper that says the state is in talks to expand Medicaid.  The article cites “secret negotiations,” but state officials say they’re not happening.

The federal healthcare law gives millions of dollars to states to put more low-income people onto their Medicaid rolls, but earlier this year the Florida Legislature failed to reach a deal to expand the program. Medicaid is jointly funded between the federal government and the states, and Republican lawmakers said expansion would prove too costly.

“The legislature’s decision last session not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act was made deliberatively and thoughtfully and since then, nothing has changed,” said Representative Richard Corcoran (R-Land O'Lakes) in a written statement. “The Florida House would welcome any talks providing Florida the flexibility to spend tax dollars more wisely and has no interest in expanding Obamacare under its current inflexible and irresponsible terms."

House Minority Leader Perry Thurston backed up Corcoran, saying aside from the Guardian report, he wasn't aware of any negotiations to expand Medicaid.

"However, I am hopeful that Republican legislative leaders and Governor Rick Scott will recognize the profound need, and will take positive bipartisan action, to reduce the high number of uninsured Floridians," he said in a statement.

Florida’s decision not to expand Medicaid means low-income Floridians, mainly single adults making less than $15,000 a year, will remain uninsured.  Those people are not eligible for subsidized insurance plans on federal exchanges, because it was the intent of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, that they be covered under the Medicaid expansion.

The U.S. Supreme Court, while upholding the law, ruled the federal government could not force states to expand the program.