Fla. Panel Rejects ACA’s Medicaid Expansion; Offers Alternative Plan
On Monday, the Florida Senate select committee on the Affordable Care Act voted 7-4 along party lines to reject Gov. Rick Scott's (R) proposal to participate in the ACA's Medicaid expansion, the Miami Herald reports (Mitchell, Miami Herald, 3/11).
Scott -- a longtime opponent of the ACA -- recently changed his stance on the Medicaid expansion after reaching an agreement with federal officials that allows the state to shift thousands of older Medicaid-eligible residents in long-term care programs into private Medicaid managed care plans (Radnofsky/Campoy, Wall Street Journal, 3/11).
In its ruling on the Affordable Care Act last year, the Supreme Court said states could choose whether to participate in the Medicaid expansion. For states that opt in, the federal government will cover 100% of the cost of the expansion until 2016, and after that the federal share will decline gradually until it reaches 90% in 2020 (California Healthline, 2/13).
Scott's proposal for a three-year Medicaid expansion trial completely funded by the federal government has faced opposition in the Republican-controlled Legislature, which has questioned the federal government's ability to sustain funding for the expansion. Last week, a Florida House panel also voted against Scott's proposal.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R) said the state should pursue a way to cover its residents that is stronger than Medicaid. He added, "Why in the world would we take the federal government's position when they promise that they'll pay for Medicaid expansion when we know that they will be unable to keep that promise in the long run?" (Miami Herald, 3/11).
Panel Proposes Alternative Coverage Solution
The Senate panel proposed a compromise that would allow the state to accept federal dollars under the ACA to provide private insurance coverage for uninsured residents, rather than shifting them into the Medicaid program.
A Senate committee is expected to develop a plan that would allow the state to use federal funding to expand Florida Healthy Kids -- a well-established health care exchange for low-income children -- to one million uninsured adults who qualify for coverage under the ACA and allow them to choose from various private plans (Alvarez, New York Times, 3/11).
Last week, HHS approved a similar plan in Arkansas, which allows the state to provide private health coverage to more than 200,000 uninsured residents with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level through the insurance exchange that the state will operate in partnership with the federal government.
Critics of such a plan say it could end up being much more costly to the federal government than regular Medicaid expansion. Adding an individual to Medicaid costs about $6,000, while purchasing private coverage would cost about $9,000, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates (Somashekhar, Washington Post, 3/9).
According to the Washington Post's "Wonkblog," the Obama administration could face funding issues if it allows states with millions of uninsured individuals, such as Florida and Texas, to provide private coverage under the Medicaid expansion (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 3/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.