Florida CHAIN Continues Push For Medicaid Expansion

Aug 17, 2016

Consumer advocacy group Florida CHAIN released a new report Wednesday that once again calls for the expansion of Medicaid in the state.

The push comes despite the fact that Florida House lawmakers have shut down expansion of the health care for the poor each year since 2010.

Advocates say Medicaid expansion would cover up to 800,000 Floridians without insurance. Mark Pafford, a former Democratic lawmaker who now leads Florida CHAIN, said if the group continues to push for expansion, it'll eventually happen.

"The legislature is like this living organism and you can't allow it to shut down,” Pafford said. “Part of that is you have to keep issues like the massive effort to provide health care to every Floridian, you have to keep that alive."

The report says upcoming changes to the Low Income Pool payment structure is estimated to reduce by $344 million the amount Tampa Bay area safety net hospital providers receive for provding care to uninsured adults in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. The report claims that providing health care coverage to low-income adults would not only significantly reduce this amount of uncompensated care, but also provide a significant boon to the area’s economy. 

“This report proves what we’ve known all along and what 31 other states are finding out," Pafford said. "Closing the coverage gap is the best thing to do for hardworking Floridians and the people of Tampa Bay. It has the potential to create tens of thousands of local jobs, address our state’s growing mental health crisis, and provide much needed relief to hurting veterans."

Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Republican from Land 'O Lakes, was one of the most vocal opponents of efforts earlier this year to expand health care coverage through federal Medicaid dollars. 

Daylina Miller is a reporter with WUSF in Tampa. WUSF is part of  Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.