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House leadership takes anti-Medicaid message to the Internet

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

As the lawmakers prepare to return to Tallahassee for a budget and healthcare special session, House leadership has prepared a 60-second Internet ad warning viewers that the same lobbyists and corporate hospital executives that “pushed Obamacare through Congress” want to expand Medicaid in Florida.

The simple, animated video features reds and blues, playing off colors in the Obamacare logo. It’s paid for by Florida Roundtable, a political committee for House Budget Chairman state Rep. Richard Corcoran. Corcoran is a leading opponent in the House of Representatives to the Senate’s plan, dubbed FHIX, to expand Medicaid to 800,000 uninsured Florida’s through the use of federal Obamacare dollars

The video compares Florida hospitals’ profits of $3.14 billion with the “value” of professional NFL, NHL, and NBA sports teams and show the hospitals outpacing them all.

“For these Florida hospitals to make big profits we have to borrow money from countries like China and Russia,” a woman’s voice says as a money board rapidly flips figures showing the national debt. “Growing profits paid for by growing debt.”

The ad hits on many of the concerns that the House Republican leadership has expressed over the past several months. The narrator says expansion would not help cover any of the working poor or Florida’s children because “they are already covered.”

“It will mostly help those who can already help themselves.”

A Healthy Florida Works spokesperson Jennifer Fennell quickly dismissed the notion that the plan being considered by the Florida Senate is an expansion of the traditional Medicaid program. The bipartisan group is pushing the expansion because it “lift(s) the burden of rising health insurance premiums off Florida’s business community while creating jobs, lowering taxes and covering more people who do have jobs or are looking for work.”

Corcoran this session has delivered speeches about Gucci-wearing lobbyists whose goals are maintaining the “status quo.” He vowed that, if necessary, he’d take his last breath as a lawmaker fighting those who defend the current healthcare system.

Fennell believes the same.  “Maintaining the status quo by doing nothing should not be an option. Florida businesses and low-income, working Floridians deserve better,” she said in an email.

The Florida Hospital Association–whose members are targeted in the political ad–did not comment. The FHA is a member of A Healthy Florida Works and supports the Senate’s proposal, called FHIX.

The ad comes just days before the Florida Legislature returns to Tallahassee for a special session. Lawmakers must craft a budget before July 1, 2016, which is the start of the next fiscal year. A budget impasse was caused by healthcare policy and spending with the chambers unable to bridge a $4 billion difference in their proposed budgets. Part of the $4 billion dispute was attributable to not knowing how large a Low Income Pool program the federal government would approve.

The state was given tentative approval last week to move ahead with a $1 billion Low Income Pool program. However  Gov. Rick Scott’s administration sent a letter to the federal government yesterday requesting that it approve a $2 billion Low Income Pool proposal

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