Mitch Perry Report for 12.16.14 – Yet another GOP governor works to expand Medicaid

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Yesterday in Nashville, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam announced the new Insure Tennessee plan, a two-year pilot program that would provide health- care coverage to tens of thousands of Tennesseans who currently don’t have access to health insurance or have limited options. The plan would be leveraged with federal dollars available through the traditional Medicaid expansion that the Obama administration expected every state to do, but which became optional after the Supreme Court 2012 ruling.

In other words, this is a hybrid-Medicaid expansion plan, like some other red- state governors have done by working with the administration in the past couple of years.

The plan still needs an official federal waiver and approval from Haslam’s GOP-controlled Legislature, no sure thing. Gov. Haslam will call a special session in January to vote on the proposal.

If approved, Tennessee will become the 28th state in the nation to expand Medicaid under the ACA, and the ninth in a state with Republican leadership. And there could be more.

The NY Times reports that Republican governors in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho also have plans in the works to expand Medicaid in some fashion.

But in Florida? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

We’ve heard from apparently the only people who matter in Tallahassee on the matter, state Sen. Joe Negron. The pleas by Democrats, business officials and everyone else to reconsider the strident opposition has gone nowhere. Apparently the idea of allowing approximately 800,000 Floridians the opportunity to get health insurance because it’s Medicaid (which they say is a terrible system of medical care) just doesn’t matter that much.

Obviously, the majority of the Legislature apparently would prefer that the subject be changed. In fact, Negron was quoted last month as saying that since his attempt to work with the administration failed once before, there was no reason to try it again.

But is it really? The more that GOP governors continue to find creative ways to work with the feds to get more of their citizens covered, the worse Florida looks. Not that that’s ever bothered anyone in Tallahassee before when it comes to some public policy issues.

In other news,

Talk about being an outlier — just in time for the holidays, Jack Latvala is scheduled to hold an afternoon presser in a craft brewery — to announce his latest bill on making 64-ounce growlers legal in the Sunshine State. Only three states in the nation refuse to sell such containers.

Tampa Bay officials have journeyed to Panama, Chile, Colombia and Brazil in recent years to drum up local business. Now they say they’re going to press harder on working with Brazil, the number one trading partner with the Tampa Port.

And Kevin Cash is really excited to be the next manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. The 37-year-old Tampa native met with local reporters yesterday in a rather ho-hum ceremony.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.