Politics

Florida Lawmakers Fail For Second Year To Provide Medicaid Alternative

| by Jared Keever

For two years running Florida lawmakers have failed to come up with an alternative to Medicaid expansion, a failure that has left 750,000 of the state’s poor with out healthcare coverage.

A recent column in the Tampa Bay Times claims lawmakers must have intended to deceive Floridians when they claimed, last year, they would find an alternative once they decided not to take the federal Medicaid money.

Florida was among 23 states who opted out of the Medicaid expansion that was part of the Affordable Care Act. The expansion would have filled a gap in coverage for those who didn’t qualify for tax credits under the new healthcare law — tax credits that could be used to buy health insurance. Without the extra Medicaid money coming in, the state was forced to leave Medicaid coverage as it had been. The decision left as many as 995,000 without health coverage according to the Orlando Sentinel.

While the Tampa Bay Times column puts that number slightly lower, the real crime, the column argues, is that state lawmakers haven’t even attempted to pass an alternative in 2014.

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"There's a desire to do the right thing and try to find a way to provide a safety net for this population that works,'' promised Republican Rep. Richard Corcoran over a year ago. "There's all kinds of things we can look at.’'

But they haven’t.

The inability, or unwillingness, of members of the state legislature to do something has now been directly linked to the death of Charlene Dill. The website All Voices reports that Dill was a single mother who worked multiple jobs and made only $11,000 per year. She died of a heart attack recently, the result of complications from a severe heart condition. She did not qualify for the tax credits or subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and because Florida opted out of Medicaid expansion she could not qualify for that coverage either.

Ron Pollack executive director of Families USA, a nonprofit health advocacy group, predicted that such individuals would be left without coverage once Florida denied the federal funds.

“They’re out of luck,” he told the Sentinel.

That, tragically, was the case for Charlene Dill.

Sources: Tampa Bay Times, Orlando Sentinel, All Voices