But the projected savings from the feds picking up the cost of the Medically Needy would more than cover the first decade of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, says Amy Baker, director of the Florida Legislature’s Economic & Demographic Research Office.
If AHCA and Baker are correct, it would actually cost state taxpayers less to cover one million uninsured low-income Floridians than it would to leave them uninsured. And it would cost a lot less than the House plan, which would provide coverage to many fewer people: 115,000.
House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has said he doesn’t trust the federal government to keep its commitment because of the need for budget cuts in Washington.
The House plan was developed by Pasco Republican Rep. Richard Corcoran of Land O’Lakes. His Florida Healthy Choices plan offered a list of reasons why Medicaid is not a good program and says those enrolled are deprived of their freedom.
State records show Florida currently pays 42 percent of the cost for the Medically Needy program, more than $430 million a year out of state general revenue.
If Florida agreed to accept federal Medicaid expansion funds, the adults who are currently in Medically Needy would be covered by private subsidized insurance, either through the Senate plan or the federal health exchange. Children who are in the Medically Needy program would remain there, according to the AHCA.
Several private research groups have previously forecast that expanding Medicaid would lead to savings, including Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute.
“Our study found the state could generate significant savings by accepting federal dollars covering people up front with primary and preventive care, rather than waiting for them to bankrupt themselves and show up in the hospital,” said Georgetown’s Joan Alker, who co-authored a report on Medicaid expansion savings. “The state is now actually showing even greater savings than we initially estimated.”