Gov. Scott doesn’t know how Florida will afford Medicaid expansion but is studying issue

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Officials in Gov. Rick Scott’s office emphasized Friday that the governor hasn’t made a decision on whether Florida should expand the Medicaid program under the federal health care law after the governor said on a morning radio show that if Florida were to do so, he doesn’t know how it would be paid for, reports the News Service of Florida.

“I don’t know how we’re ever going to be able to afford it,” Scott said Friday morning in an interview on WOKV radio in Jacksonville. The Supreme Court ruling on Thursday upholding the federal Affordable Care Act also said states have the right to opt out of any Medicaid expansion required under the law without risking the loss of existing Medicaid dollars. The host, Rich Jones, asked Scott if he would push for Florida to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. Scott replied: “Here’s what you’ve got to look at: I don’t know how we’re ever going to be able to afford it. I mean, look at how tough our budgets are now. My first year I had over a $3 billion budget deficit walking into the fiscal year. Last session I had almost a $2 billion deficit. I mean, Medicaid is the biggest issue we have. Medicaid has been growing at three and a half times our general revenue. We can’t afford it. The federal government cannot just keep raising our taxes.” The law relies in part on states taking on large numbers of new Medicaid patients – though the federal government would pick up the cost at first and 90 percent of the cost down the road. Still, even at having to pay only 10 percent of the cost of new Medicaid patients, several Florida lawmakers said this week that the state may opt out. A spokesman for the governor said, however, that Scott “has been very clear that he hasn’t made a decision yet.” The spokesman, Lane Wright said it is being studied. “He has policy staff and legal staff working on this,” Wright said. “He wants to make sure we fully understand what the decision means for Florida before moving forward.”

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.