Florida’s 2016 Legislative Session kicked off this week, and this year, analysts do not think Medicaid expansion will be a hot-button issue.That’s bad news if you’re the head of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Department, which wants Florida to expand eligibility for the health care program for the poor.
Health Reporter Abe Aboraya spoke with HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell. They started by talking about any behind-the-scenes lobbying to get Medicaid back on the table.
ABORAYA: What are you personally doing behind the scenes to change that?
BURWELL: We’re gonna continue to work to make progress. What we know in Kentucky there’s been an analysis by the University of Louisville and one of the big accounting firms saying 40,000 jobs will be created in Kentucky by 2021, a much smaller state than Florida. And $30 billion will flow into Kentucky from the federal government. So whether it’s what this does for the individual in terms of health and financial security, or what this does for the state in terms of contributing to economic health of the entire state, we believe this is something that people are going to make a decision to do over time.
ABORAYA: Gov. Rick Scott mentioned jobs 32 times during the state of the state address. Is that something you’re using as a negotiating or selling tactic behind the scenes to maybe get a little more talk on this?
BURWELL: The jobs are extremely important, we’ve seen that job growth. In addition, just about 10 days ago, another study came out where in states that have expanded Medicaid, we know the uncompensated care or that care when people just come in and use emergency rooms, that care has gone down. It’s helping the economies and economics of those hospitals in those states. And that’s in both rural and urban areas.
ABORAYA: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a former hospital executive, he’s pushing for greater hospital transparency at hospitals. Is greater price transparency a priority for HHS?
BURWELL: It is, and it’s a very important part of the Affordable Care Act where we’ve made good progress. Whether that’s price transparency on issues like drug payments or price transparency on issues like who’s being paid how much by Medicare, the consumer has that ability. We want to move to a place where an engaged, empowered and educated consumer is at the center of care.
-- Reporter Abe Aboraya is part of WMFE in Orlando. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.