Census: Nearly 1.6 million more Floridians could be eligible for Medicaid under Obamacare

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Nearly 1.6 million Floridians making under $15,372 a year were not covered by health insurance in 2010 and would be eligible for Medicaid if the state went along with a controversial expansion of the program under the “Obamacare” health law, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.

Some of those people would be newly eligible for coverage under the law, while others already qualify for Medicaid but have not signed up. Gov. Rick Scott has said the state will not go along with an optional expansion of Medicaid eligibility, at least in part because of potential costs.

In addition, one in three Floridians making less than $44,556 a year in 2010 would at least be eligible for tax credits to pay for health care, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In all, nearly 3.4 million Floridians would be eligible for some type of health care subsidy or Medicaid coverage under the federal health law, the data show.

A family of four with a household income of up to $30,793 would become Medicaid-eligible based on 2010 income under the plan, which expands Medicaid coverage to those making 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Tax credits would be available for households making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $89,256 for a family of four in 2010.

In Florida, the percentage of uninsured varies widely by county. In Monroe County, half of residents earning less than138 percent of the poverty level are not covered by insurance and would be eligible for Medicaid. In Jackson County, 26 percent of that group doesn’t have insurance and would qualify.

Florida Republicans led a legal fight to try to get the federal health law, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, struck down. President Obama and congressional Democrats approved the law in 2010.

While the Supreme Court in June upheld the act’s mandate that most citizens have health insurance, the court left up to the states whether to expand Medicaid. Initially, the federal government would pay all of the Medicaid expansion costs, though that total would eventually be reduced to 90 percent.

Republicans, who have been in control of the state for more than a decade, have repeatedly said that Florida can’t afford what it spends now on health care for the poor, and the large Medicaid expansion in the law would also be problematic.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.