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Medicaid Expansion, And What It Means For This Tallahassee Business Owner

Here's the pile of scrap lumber before it goes through Marpan's wood chipper.
Nick Evans

Florida’s healthcare concerns are on the rise as discussions about Medicaid expansion slow to a crawl in the legislature. Now, members of the public are working to make their voices heard. Local business owner Kim Williams is one of the voices representing Florida’s small business owners.

Credit Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce
Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce
Kim Williams, President and CEO of Marpan Recycling

Kim Williams is the President and CEO of Marpan Recycling. As a small business owner in Tallahassee, Williams supports the state senate proposal to expand Medicaid.

He says his company has already paid for the new program to be put in place.

“We’ve already paid the premium, we’ve got a 4 percent sales tax on our healthcare premiums that were paid to put this Medicaid expansion or healthcare expansion into place,” Williams says.

Williams says under the Affordable Care Act, Marpan pays a mandatory 4 percent increase on its insurance premium to fund the Medicaid expansion.

The Florida House approved its 2015-2016 spending proposal Thursday, without plans to use federal dollars to expand healthcare, or to supplement hospitals treating low-income patients.

Meanwhile, the state is negotiating with the Federal Government to get funding for its LIP Program, which serves low income Floridians.

The federal negotiators are on break, which has slowed the talks, and the two entities appear to be at an impasse. Gov. Rick Scott has said he won’t expand Medicaid without LIP funding. And for the federal government, it’s vice versa.

Williams says if the measure does not pass, lawmakers are cheating working Floridians like him.

“I’m disappointed that nobody in government or in the legislature or in the governor’s office is standing up for the benefits that working Floridians that have private healthcare insurance are not getting from the dollars they are already contributing,” Williams says.

Williams is also a member of Healthy Florida Works, a bipartisan coalition of business leaders. The association supports extending health care coverage to working, uninsured Floridians. Williams joined the initiative following his departure from the board at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare.

As former member on the board at TMH, Williams says presenting a hospital emergency room as the only option for low income patients, is a disservice to Floridians.

“If you don’t have healthcare insurance, you go to the emergency room when you feel bad and that the most expensive way to get care, it’s an inopportune moment when you’ve already been sick for a period time and didn’t get better,” Williams says. “It would be better to take care of people in physician’s offices rather than in hospital emergency rooms.”

The House remains opposed to drawing down Medicaid money to insure more than 800,000 uninsured Floridians, but The Senate has a plan that would use the Federal funds.

Keta Browning is a senior Broadcast Journalism student and reporter at Florida A&M University. Aside from her contributions to WFSU News, Keta also serves as an on-air personality for FAMU's college station WANM 90.5 FM. Born and raised in Ocala, FL, she aspires to pursue a passionate career in radio and/or entertainment journalism.