1.6 million Floridians would get healthcare if Medicaid is expanded


News Service of Florida

Almost 1.6 million Floridians making less than $15,372 a year were not covered by health insurance in 2010 and would be eligible for Medicaid if the state went along with a controversial expansion of the program under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

Some of those people would be newly eligible for coverage under the law, while others already qualify for Medicaid but have not signed up. Gov. Rick Scott has said the state will not go along with an optional expansion of Medicaid eligibility, at least in part because of potential costs.

In addition, one in three Floridians making less than $44,556 a year in 2010 would at least be eligible for tax credits to pay for healthcare, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In all, almost 3.4 million Floridians would be eligible for some type of healthcare subsidy or Medicaid coverage under the federal health law, the data show.

A family of four with a household income of up to $30,793 would become Medicaid-eligible based on 2010 income under the plan, which expands Medicaid coverage to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Tax credits would be available for households making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $89,256 for a family of four in 2010.

Florida Republicans led a legal fight to try to get the federal health law, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, struck down.

While the Supreme Court in June upheld the act’s mandate that most citizens have health insurance, the court left up to the states whether to expand Medicaid. Initially, the federal government would pay all of the Medicaid expansion costs, though that would eventually be reduced to 90 percent.

Republicans, who have been in control of the state for more than a decade, have repeatedly said that Florida cannot afford what it spends now on healthcare for the poor, and the large Medicaid expansion in the law would make the situation worse.

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