U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson To Gov. Rick Scott: 'Call A Special Session'

May 7, 2013

Democratic Senator Bill Nelson isn’t happy about the Florida Legislature concluding its 2013 session without reaching a deal on expanding healthcare coverage under the Federal Affordable Healthcare Act. Nelson put his frustration in a letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday.

Governor Rick Scott did a 180 on Medicaid expansion just before the legislative session in March. But, Florida lawmakers couldn’t reach a deal on how to expand healthcare coverage to about 1-million low income Floridians before the session adjourned. Now, Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson wants the Governor to call legislators back to Tallahassee for a special session.

“The way to get it done is bring the spotlight in on them, haul them back to Tallahassee in a special session and let them under the glare of the spotlight have to vote on whether or not over a million people are going to get health care,” Nelson said.

The Florida Legislature concluded its 2013 session last Friday without approving any of the compromise plans put forward by lawmakers like Senator Joe Negron (R-Palm City). Governor Scott hasn’t yet responded to the Senator’s letter.

You can read Nelson's letter below:

"Dear Gov. Scott:

"In Florida – a state where roughly one-in-five residents not covered by Medicare lack any health-insurance coverage at all - the consequences of the state Legislature’s recent decision not to expand Medicaid loom large.

"As you know, in passing the Affordable Care Act, Congress fully funded the expansion of Medicaid coverage to an estimated one million Floridians. And, your announcement last February - when you publicly declared you wouldn’t be the one to “deny” these Floridians this coverage - was seen by many as a “watershed moment” for the nation’s health-care bill.

"Now, the Legislature has done exactly what you said you wouldn’t: it has denied these Floridians access to coverage. And now, only you have the chance to remedy the lawmakers’ failure to expand Medicaid to these needy Floridians. Therefore, I urge you to call a special session.

"As governor, you have a responsibility to the safety and welfare of all Floridians. And, absent further action on your part, hundreds of thousands will continue receiving their medical care in hospital emergency rooms across our state – where the costs are the absolute highest, and taxpayers and policyholders foot-the-bill.

"Not only was this an unconscionable and callous decision by the Legislature – it was also a bad decision for many business owners who could now end up paying tax penalties of $2,000 to $3,000 per employee. As a former state treasurer and insurance regulator, I can also tell you one of the ways to curb a rise in premiums is by reducing the high expenses associated with uncompensated and indigent medical care that get passed on to the rest of us.

"So, again, I strongly urge you to remedy the Legislature’s inexcusable failure. I look forward to hearing from you on this issue of special importance and working with you to provide Floridians with this much-needed medical coverage."