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Gov. Scott tells Legislature: Get a Medicaid block grant

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Gov. Rick Scott wants a Medicaid block grant.

That was the governor’s message in a gaggle with reporters on Tuesday to discuss his meeting with Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, on Wednesday. The governor said he hopes the federal government will reconsider its decision on Low Income Pool funding so the state can prepare a budget for the upcoming year.

Scott said the government should continue the program because it helps low-income people. When asked what he’d tell Burwell about the Senate’s FHIX plan or Medicaid expansion, Scott replied that “it’s not going to happen. There’s no support in the House I’m not going to support it; it’s not a program that’s worked.”

Instead of pursuing the Senate plan, which would require federal approval because of its work requirements, among other things, Scott said the Florida Legislature should be looking at making the Medicaid program a block grant. Block grants require congressional approval unless it is a so-called 1332 Innovation Waiver under the federal healthcare law often called Obamacare.

Alan Levine told Florida Politics before the session the Legislature should start developing a health plan under Section 1332 and “perhaps they can buy time on the Low Income Pool.” Levine was Jeb Bush‘s healthcare point man and formerly a consultant for Republicans nationally.

The section 1332 waiver would allow the state to avoid most of the Obamacare requirements and use the federal funds that would have been funneled to Florida under Obamacare — such as the premium tax credits to people who enroll through healthcare.gov and tax credits for small businesses–- to fund the state created program.

Levine’s “read” of the section is that the state also would be authorized to use Medicaid dollars, federal Title XXI dollars (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) and Low Income Pool dollars to fund the state program.

Levine called section 1332 of Obamacare “the red carpet Republican governors have been wanting.”

The waivers are available in 2017 but Levine said if the state started working on a plan in earnest, “Perhaps hey can buy time on (Low Income Pool).”

James Call contributed to this story

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