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Rick Scott reverses course, opposes Medicaid expansion

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday reversed his position on Medicaid expansion, again announcing he will not support providing access to health care for 800,000 uninsured Floridians as called for under the federal healthcare law.

After Florida Politics reported the governor’s office would not answer questions on Medicaid expansion on Friday his office released the following statement:

“Our priority is to cut more than $600 million in taxes this session and get K-12 education funding up to record levels while holding the line on college tuition,” Scott said in the release.

“We still have several weeks left for budget negotiations; however, given that the federal government said they would not fund the federal LIP program to the level it is funded today, it would be hard to understand how the state could take on even more federal programs that CMS could scale back or walk away from.”

Medicaid expansion has resurfaced in the Florida Legislature because of its link to the federal Low Income Pool, commonly called LIP. The money is mostly federal and county dollars–with some general revenue–and is used to help supplement hospitals for providing uncompensated care.

The $2 billion program expires this summer and Florida initially was trying to increase the amount of the program to $4.5 billion. The federal government, which has been negotiationg with the state for months, has advised Florida that any program that is approved to replace LIP would be less than the current $2.1 billion the state receives.

Florida has received the supplemental Medicaid payments for the past nine years. They were initially secured by former Gov. Jeb Bush and approved by the George W. Bush administration.

The Florida Senate has included LIP funding and a Medicaid expansion in its proposed budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year but the House has included neither. The federal healthcare dollars are the main reason the two chambers are $4 billion apart in their proposed spending plans.

Scott made his political name opposing the federal healthcare law by financing an anti-Obamacare ad campaign under the moniker Conservatives for Patients Rights. After being elected governor, Scott in 2013 reversed his position on Medicaid expansion, saying he supported the idea so long as the federal government picked up the entire tab.

Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act is funded completely by the federal government through 2016.

Scott is reportedly interested in seeking a U.S. Senate seat in 2018.

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