Senate and House play hot potato with Medicaid bills


Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

The Florida Senate effectively rejected the House’s alternative to expanding Medicaid on Monday, prolonging a stalemate that may prove too difficult to resolve before the legislative session wraps up this week.

Senators on Monday took up the House plan, which passed last week, but quickly amended the bill by swapping in their own plan. The Senate is expected to pass the amended bill and send it back to the House Tuesday .

What happens after that is anyone’s guess.

The Senate plan relies on $51 billion in federal funding over 10 years to provide private health insurance to 1 million poor Floridians. The House proposal uses only state money — up to about $300 million a year — to provide basic health coverage to 130,000 people.

House members last week criticized the Senate plan as extending the current Medicaid system in the state, a program that they say does not provide quality insurance to low-income Floridians.

On Monday, senators fired back.

“Nothing in this bill expands Medicaid,” said Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who drafted the Senate plan. “We don’t want to expand Medicaid, and we want to have a Florida solution and not a Washington solution.”

The Senate proposal has the support of hospitals, business groups such as the Associated Industries of Florida and Gov. Rick Scott. But with House Republicans dug in against accepting federal money, there appears to be little room for compromise.

“I’m very concerned that nothing will happen and $51 billion will be sitting out there for over a million residents of the state of Florida,” said Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, the lone Republican in the House to vote to accept federal assistance.

On Monday, senators gutted a third alternative that was created as an olive branch to the House.

Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, stripped his bill so that it no longer deals with an alternative to Medicaid expansion.

That leaves two vastly divided chambers, two very different proposals and just four days. Scott told reporters Monday that he remains optimistic the Legislature will “do the right thing.”

“Our choice now is to decide whether we’re going to take care of the uninsured,” Scott said. “I support Sen. Negron’s bill. The House and Senate know exactly where I stand on this.”

Herald/Times staff writer Michael Van Sickler contributed to this report.

Read more Political Currents stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category