Tags: rick | scott | medicaid | expansion

Fla.'s Scott Joins Republican Governors Accepting Medicaid Funding for Obamacare

Wednesday, 20 Feb 2013 09:51 PM

By Todd Beamon

Reaction was swift and strong from both sides on Wednesday to Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s reversal on Obamacare — now saying that he would expand Medicaid coverage to as many as 900,000 more people under the healthcare law.

Scott said Wednesday he would ask the Legislature to broaden the program under a bill to sunset in three years. The move allows Florida taxpayers to reap the benefit of full federal funding for the Medicaid expansion during the first three years, without a promise to continue beyond the three years.

Scott joined a number of conservative Republican governors who have ardently opposed Obamacare, but believe it would be wrong to deny their state the benefits of federal funding.

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Last month Arizona's Gov. Jan Brewer, an Obamacare critic, signed on to the federal Medicaid funding plan, as did Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio earlier this month. Republican governors in Michigan, North Dakota, New Mexico and Nevada have also agreed to the federal plan.

Scott said he would support the expansion as long as the federal government pays 100 percent of the increased costs — the deal offered to states by the White House for the first three years.

After that, the federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost for the additional enrollees.

“Gov. Scott’s announcement today is extremely disappointing,” Slade O’Brien, director of the Florida operation of Americans for Prosperity, said in a statement. “Gov. Scott had been a national leader in the fight against President Obama’s healthcare takeover.

Expanding access to Medicaid services for three years is a compassionate, common-sense step forward … it is not a white flag of surrender to government-run healthcare," Scott said Wednesday.

Scott’s move has brought praise from Health Care for America Now, a coalition of community-based healthcare organizations.

“People's heads are probably exploding at tea party headquarters across the country — and that’s because we may have just witnessed a crucial turning point in the Republican’s hyper-partisan opposition to the Affordable Care Act,” Ethan Rome, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

And, Judy Waxman, a vice president of the National Women’s Law Center, also commended Scott’s turnabout, saying it would enable as many as 613,000 Florida women to obtain quality healthcare. It also will cut the number of uninsured women in the state from 25.3 percent to 5.8 percent.

“Women covered through the Medicaid expansion will receive a comprehensive set of health benefits, such as mammograms, preventive health screenings, and treatment for chronic conditions,” she said in a statement. “Expanding coverage through Medicaid is a sensible approach to providing coverage for the uninsured, a good deal for Florida, and a smart use of healthcare funds.”

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