Simmons says ‘strong arguments’ exist to expand Medicaid
An additional 900,000 Floridians would be eligible for Medicaid coverage if the state were to lower requirements as called for by ACA. The Agency for Health Care Administration estimates the cost at $3 billion over 10 years. A study by the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University reached a different conclusion, a net savings of $100 million per year.
James Call, 02/01/2013 – 04:36 PM
The budget recommendation Gov. Rick Scott sent to the Legislature earmarks $23.7 billion for Medicaid but no money for expanding the program as called for in the federal Affordable Care Act. Scott said there are too many unanswered questions about the cost and that the state continues to work with the federal government to get more information. “Today is not the day for that decision,” Scott said Thursday when he released his 2013-14 budget proposal. An additional 900,000 Floridians would be eligible for Medicaid coverage if the state were to lower requirements as called for by ACA. The Agency for Health Care Administration estimates the cost at $3 billion over 10 years. A study by the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University reached a different conclusion, a net savings of $100 million per year. Most likely, the true cost of extending Medicaid coverage to more people lies somewhere between the two conclusions. Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, chairs the Banking and Insurance Committee and sits on a select committee that will make recommendations on whether the state will provide Medicaid to childless adults. “The fact of it is it’s not too difficult to run some formulas and make certain reasonable assumptions and be able to compute the probable cost to the state of Florida,” Simmons said Friday. If Florida were to lower eligibility for Medicaid — a joint federal and state health insurance program for the poor and catastrophically sick — and insure people who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line — $14,856 for an individual — the federal government would pick up 100 percent of the cost the first three years and then 90 percent starting in 2020. “We can listen to all types of woes about what’s the problems with the affordable health care plan,” House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, said Wednesday at the Associated Press legislative planning session. “We’re talking about saving lives. We have reputable studies saying if we implement this over 826 lives per year will be saved … Not to do this, I think would be morally reprehensible.” The Georgetown study found that if Florida does not expand Medicaid coverage, health care providers in the state would lose an estimated $26 billion in federal money over 10 years. It found that new costs produced by ACA are more than offset on reduced subsidies to safety net providers, mental health programs and other initiatives “It is correct to say that there are very strong arguments why the state of Florida should go ahead and do the Medicaid expansion, but there are arguments against it that I want to hear and analyze,” Simmons said. “But there is no doubt the arguments are compelling to go ahead and use what one would call OPM: other people’s money. That’s what we’re doing; we’re having other people pay the cost.” On Monday the Senate and House select committees on the ACA will hold a joint meeting in room 412 of the Knott Building. The meeting will convene at 2:00 p.m. and lawmakers will discuss the Exchange options in the ACA and take public testimony.
Related Research: * Nov. 2012 Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University study on Florida’s Medicaid Choice. * Feb. 4, 2013 Meeting packet for the House and Senate Select Committees on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Reporter James Call can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.