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Senate Health Policy Committee files Medicaid expansion proposal

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After hearing yesterday from a panel of Florida health care experts as well as some from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence‘s administration, the Senate Health Policy Committee led by Chairman Sen. Aaron Bean has filed a proposal Thursday night to accept federal funds to extend Medicaid coverage to Florida’s nearly 1 million uninsured.

The plan would create a Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange Program, or FHIX, under the auspices of the Agency for Health Care Administration.

The plan includes many tenets of the Hoosier state’s plan, including small payments from all adult enrollees to ensure “skin in the game,” even those at or below 22 percent of the federal poverty level with some exceptions; penalties for missing payments, including loss of coverage for a six-month period; and the explicit understanding that the plan is “not an entitlement and [that] federal funding may end at any time.”

Bean said in a press availability Wednesday that he likes many aspects of the Indiana plan, called Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 –– renamed after changes stemming from a new federally influenced framework, including what he called a “work requirement.”

Though Indiana does refer all eligible enrollees to workforce development agencies, premium assistance is not tied to employment. The new Senate plan, likely in a move to appeal to the more right-leaning House, sets down a provision that “assistance will be offered in a way that incentivizes employment.”

Specifically, the plan requires all participants to submit an application for coverage “which includes proof of employment, on-the-job training or placement activities, or pursuit of educational opportunities,” which would appear to be more stringent than the Indiana plan, the product of months of negotiation between the state and the Obama administration.

The bill is set to be taken up in Health Policy next Tuesday, March 10.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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