Gov. Rick Scott visits Miami drug-testing lab

Days after surprising political watchers by accepting a federal expansion of Medicaid, Gov. Rick Scott came to a Miami drug-testing lab that attracts trial participants with the promise of free advanced care.

"I made the right decision for Florida families," Gov. Scott said during the grand opening of new clinical space for Advanced Pharma.

The scheduled stop was to tout jobs, with Advanced Pharma employing 40 people in the new University of Miami Life Sciences and Technology office park.

In the early days of the company’s founding in 2009, Advanced Pharma had weeks when it couldn’t make payroll, said CEO Samantha Amaba.

Drug companies and device makers pay Advanced Pharma for trials, and the firm is moving into a 150-bed facility at the UM building near the Jackson hospital campus after occupying temporary space there for about a year.

Amaba said many of their test subjects are poor, and are happy for the free care and drugs that come with a trial program.

"We have people come here with lupus who can’t afford treatment," she said.

After vowing to fight "Obamacare" in recent years, Scott on Wednesday announced he would accept a three-year expansion of Medicaid that is central to the new federal healthcare program.

On Friday, Scott said the decision came in part after reflecting on the charity care his brother received while fighting a disease as a child growing up in a family of modest means.

But the governor also said the Medicaid move does not signal an embrace of "Obamacare."

"How is it going to impact care?" Scott asked. "How is it going to impact costs. How is it going to impact access?"

Douglas Hanks