Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Florida business interests put forward plan to expand healthcare coverage using federal money

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 2:25 PM

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With state lawmakers rejecting an expansion of Medicaid, a coalition including business groups released a proposal Wednesday that would extend private health insurance to hundreds of thousands of low-income Floridians.

The proposal, backed by groups such as Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Hospital Association, would target people who otherwise would be part of a Medicaid expansion. The proposal would be largely funded through billions of dollars in federal money available under the Affordable Care Act. But it would use a state-operated private insurance "marketplace," where eligible people could choose among health plans. Also, it would require participants to be involved in such activities as job searches, job training or educational programs.

The proposal, issued by a coalition called "A Healthy Florida Works," also says that extending coverage would allow the state to end the Medically Needy program, which provides costly care to people who have debilitating illnesses but don't qualify for Medicaid. Some elements of the proposal, which would need state and federal approval, are similar to a plan pushed by Senate Republican leaders in 2013. House leaders refused to approve the Senate plan or a Medicaid expansion, arguing in part that the state could not rely on promises of federal funding. The proposal released Wednesday contends that Floridians are paying federal tax dollars that flow to other states that have expanded health coverage. "Florida policymakers have an opportunity to provide basic health care services for those most in need while also ensuring the state’s financial security,'' the proposal said. "Florida dollars have already paid for this. We should accept the available federal funds so we can get back what we sent to Washington D.C., rather than allowing those dollars to fund programs in other states."

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