November 15, 2022

Medicaid expansion in Florida? South Dakota vote may show the way.

Christopher O'Donnell writes:

"The refusal of Republican state lawmakers to expand Medicaid in Florida has been a decadelong frustration for health care advocates and others in a state where 2.4 million people have no health insurance.

Expanding the federal program, which provides health insurance to low-income and disabled people, would make an estimated 900,000 Floridians eligible, or more than 4% of the state’s population. That includes more than 400,000 who earn below the federal poverty level, according to the Florida Policy Institute, a Tallahassee nonprofit [emphasis added].


The incentives to expand have never been greater following passage of the American Rescue Act, said Holly Bullard, chief strategy and development officer at the Florida Policy Institute.

Currently, the federal government covers 60% of the medical bills for the 5 million Floridians enrolled in the program. Under the new act, which was passed during the pandemic, the federal government will cover 90% of the cost of those added to the program by expansion.

That would mean savings for the state to provide medical coverage for inmates and prisoners, and uninsured people who need mental health treatment, Bullard said. Her group estimates expansion would reduce the number of uninsured by a third and save Florida $1.95 billion in the first year.

'You cannot point to any state, red or purple, that has unexpanded or had a fiscal nightmare,' she said. 'It is good for your fiscal line; it’s good for budgets.'"

Expansion is also supported by child welfare advocates who see access to health insurance as critical for parents to maintain healthy home environments for their children."


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