Gov. Rick Scott says state will expand Medicaid in Florida

Gov. Rick Scott says state will expand Medicaid in Florida

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Fla. Gov. Scott said he will expand Medicaid in the state, reversing hisopposition to the federal healthcare overhaul proposed by President Obama andpassed by Congress in 2010, often referred to as Obamacare. 

Gov. Scott has announced that he would support a limited, three-yearexpansion of the state's Medicaid program under the president's healthcare law,as long as the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100 percent ofthe cost.  This legislation would sunset after three years and need to bere-authorized.

"There are no perfect options. Our options are either having Floridianspay to fund this program in other states while denying healthcare to ourcitizens or using federal funding to help some of the poorest in our state withthe Medicaid program as we explore other healthcare reforms," said Gov.Scott.

Federal health officials had said that they would approve the state'srequest to privatize Medicaid statewide, as long as Florida resolved severaloutstanding issues.  The decision comes after nearly two years ofnegotiations between the state and the Centers for Medicare and MedicaidServices.

The federal waiver will allow Florida to bend the rules a little as to howthe state will set up Medicaid, in order to help keep costs down.  Gov.Scott, in return, will allow health insurance exchanges to be set up in thestate, according to the Associated Press.  These exchanges are a key partof the federal healthcare overhaul and will allow Florida consumers to go shop forhealth insurance they might not have had otherwise.

"Expanding access to Medicaid services for three years is acompassionate, common sense step forward. It is not the end of our work toimprove healthcare," the governor said.  "And, it is not a whiteflag of surrender to government-run healthcare. I am committed to working everyday to improve access to affordable, high-quality healthcare in Florida, whilealso protecting taxpayers and keeping our economy growing to create more jobs -which ultimately fuels the dreams of every Florida family."

After the three year test period, if the exchanges are kept, the federalgovernment would pay 90 percent and the state of Florida 10. Some estimates putcosts at $2 billion to $3 billion dollars for the state over the next 10 years.Up to 1 million Floridians could gain access to health insurance under theprogram.

The proposal still must be approved by the Legislature.

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