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Florida Medicaid Expansion

Immediately after the Supreme Court ruling on health care reform, Governor Rick Scott took a stand against Medicaid expansion; a crucial piece of the Affordable Care Act. On June 29, one day after the SCOTUS ruled participation in Medicaid expansion as optional for each state, several GOP representatives leaped at the chance to throw any outcome of the ruling in the face of the current Presidential administration. As the conservative right has been attempting to pull every string to undo health care reform, this seemed a perfect opportunity to bring down the newly created health care system.

The Florida governor claimed that Medicaid expansion would cost the state $1.9 billion per year, and announced publicly that he would not be participating in giving the program any more funding or room to grow. This was naturally an exaggeration used to gain support for removing as many ACA laws as possible. Gov. Scott later had a change of heart and tried to persuade the Florida House to embrace the idea. With a heavily Republican committee to face, the attempt to pass legislation on Medicaid expansion was thwarted. As Florida has one of the highest percentages of residents without coverage in the nation, it would make more sense to allow a higher number of low-income, uninsured Floridians access to Medicaid under the law. Medicaid expansion would help make a dent in ensuring roughly one million individuals in the state of Florida stay healthy and live longer.


Medicaid Expansion Under the ACA

The Medicaid expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act provides health insurance coverage through the Medicaid program to all adults ages 19 to 64 whose income meets or falls below 133% of the federal poverty level. These actions begin to take place as of January 2014 in most states, though others opted for an early expansion. This law was created in an attempt to provide more financially needy Americans with the ability to use health care. Making it more feasible for qualifying adults would greatly impact the lack of health demonstrated throughout the country, as low-income individuals tend to experience a greater deal of health complications.


Medicaid Expansion’s Impact on Florida

For Floridians, Medicaid expansion would have a huge impact as there are over 4 million uninsured residents, and lack of affordability can be credited with some of that statistic. More people enrolled in government-funded insurance programs in Florida would make a huge change in the dwindling health of the population and increasing number of people without insurance. It would greatly affect the overall health of the state as well, given the increase in obesity and diabetes not showing any signs that health care is not in desperate need among Floridians. Medicaid is also offers sufficient assistance to pregnant women who do not have health insurance, which is incredibly important when you consider the population size and how many births occur.

Although health reform has been continually scrutinized for its lack of organization, there is a structured plan of funding Medicaid expansion. Federal funds provide 100 percent of the funding needed to add this new eligibility group for the first three years (2014 to 2016), and the federal government will gradually cut back starting in 2017 to paying 90 percent by 2020. Beginning in 2020, the state would be required to pay for 10% of the expansion, which according to the state would cost a little over $500 million once expansion is fully implemented. These estimates have been deemed “hyper-inflated” by the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, as it may be more like $1.4 billion.

When considering the 4 million uninsured Florida residents and the amount of money it would take to cover a fraction of them, it is quite a sum. $1.9 billion is still overreaching. According to the most recent estimate from the state health care agency, new Medicaid changes could end up costing roughly $1.4 billion per year. Florida still has the opportunity to expand Medicaid, or begin a program similar to other states that have modified the idea of a low-income health plan besides the exchanges. Due to fierce opposition from the House of Representatives, it seems unlikely that Florida will help their needy population.


Coverage Solutions for the Low-Income Uninsured

One frustration lawmakers in Florida have with Medicaid is that many people who are currently eligible have not yet applied. If you meet the eligibility criteria and are able to enroll, there is no reason not to claim public assistance. You need to be a legal resident or U.S. citizen, and have extremely low income, as well as children, or perhaps be an SSI beneficiary. If you’re a low-income adult without children, you’re out of luck until state officials decide to allow more needy, uninsured people into the Medicaid program.

If you earn at least 100 percent of the poverty line, you are able to purchase coverage through the Florida Health Insurance Exchange and qualify for a subsidy. This coverage is reduced in cost according to how much you can afford to pay. Floridians who make 100 to 250 percent FPL may be eligible to have their premiums and cost sharing reduced, making coverage and care more feasible. Contact one of our agents for more details about exchange eligibility at 888 803 5917. We can help you enroll in a plan and receive financial assistance as we have access to the federal data services hub.

You may also qualify for a county health plan, so visit your local health department for more details.