Federal officials offer Florida billions to expand Medicaid

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — There are just 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid since the passage of the ACA, and Florida is one of them.

But, as part of the COVID-19 stimulus bill, states like Florida are being offered billions of dollars to expand coverage to residents at or below the 138% federal poverty line.

“One of the provisions in the bill that Congress just passed would give an additional financial incentive to states that newly take up the Medicaid expansion,” says Jesse Cross-Call, a senior policy analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “This is about $3 billion over two years in additional federal dollars.”

In Florida, where more than 13% of the population is without healthcare, it’s estimated that almost 700,000 people would be covered by an expansion of Medicaid.

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“This additional $3 billion would more than pay for the state’s share of additional expansion,” says Cross-Call.

But the money only lasts for two years. After that the state would have to cover about 10% of the cost. It is this lingering issue that has so far kept Florida from expanding eligibility.

“Free money from the federal government or whoever may not be free money forever,” notes UCF Political Science professor Dr John Hanley.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis has long been opposed to Medicaid expansion, as have leaders in the Florida legislature.