Medicaid expansion could create 63K Florida jobs, says White House

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One argument the White House uses to justify Medicaid expansion appeals directly to Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Republicans — job creation.

In a soon-to-be released report — the Tampa Bay Times obtained an early copy — expanding Medicaid in Florida could generate an estimated 63,800 jobs through 2017, primarily in the health care industry. That is with the three years of full payment by federal government for the entire cost of providing 848,000 Floridians with health care.

Scheduled for release on Wednesday, the Council of Economic Advisers study — titled “Missed Opportunities” – is part of an effort by the Obama administration to push a key part of the Affordable Care Act. The report compared states extending Medicaid to Florida and 23 others that refused.

Among the claims are the number of Floridians experiencing depression could drop by 68,000, or there would be 38,000 fewer people with “catastrophic out-of-pocket costs in a typical year.”

Sources for the report include Urban Institute statistics.

“Today’s report is yet another reminder that access to affordable health care makes a real difference to families, hospitals and state economies across the country,” Obama said in a statement. “I applaud the governors and state legislatures of both parties who have done the right thing and expanded Medicaid in their states, and I urge the governors and state legislatures who have not yet expanded Medicaid to put their constituents’ health over partisan politics and give millions more Americans the access to affordable health care they deserve.”

Scott, who rode to office on a campaign against Obama’s health care law, initially rejected Medicaid expansion, before reversing his stance in February 2013 to help the “poorest and weakest” Floridians.

“While the federal government is committed to pay 100 percent of the cost,” Scott said, “I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians the needed access to health care.”

Nevertheless, Times reporter Alex Leary notes that Scott at the time did not lean on the Republican-controlled House; they wouldn’t have budged for the political newcomer anyway.

In the past, federal funds were an incentive for the Florida GOP – stimulus money helped balance the state budget during the Great Recession — but opposition to Obamacare has been particularly intense.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.