As promised, the Florida House released its answer to the federal Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act on Thursday morning. It would leave out most of those the federal health law intended to cover.
It would provide limited coverage to parents of minor children and to disabled adults under 100 percent of the federal poverty level. The poverty level for a three-person family is about $19,500 a year.
For one person, it is about $11,500, but single people need not apply for the House plan.
Unlike the Senate plan proposed by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, the plan developed by Rep. Richard Corcoran, a Pasco Republican, would turn down billions of dollars in federal funds. It also would cover only 115,000, instead of the estimated 1 million or more of the uninsured low-income people the Senate plan would cover.
Those who support expansion of coverage to Florida's millions of low-income uninsured were appalled.
Greg Mellowe of the consumer advocacy group Florida CHAIN called the 47-page House plan, Florida Health Choices Plus, "one of the most mean-spirited proposals in memory."
He said it was "gross mismanagement" for House leaders to turn down federal funds, which would in effect send Floridians' tax money to other states.
Joan Alker of Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families agreed, noting that the plan requires even those below the poverty level to ante up $25 a month to qualify for $167 state funding in a health-care account.
"This offers a virtually worthless product to 115,000 people who cannot afford it," Alker said. "This is really a waste of state taxpayer dollars. It's not going to solve any problems."
Much of the House plan was devoted to listing the flaws of the federal Medicaid program and offering reasons why the need for health coverage is not all that severe. The major themes are that most uninsured Florida residents do not live in poverty (p. 22), report they are in good health (p. 23), and are reinsured within one year (p. 24).
In addition, it says, "Most individuals in poverty remain there for only a short time."
Alker said the House plan contains a lot of "political rhetoric, not what I would consider serious health policy."
The House plan bears some resemblance to that advanced last week by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach.
Gov. Rick Scott slammed the plan, saying it would force Floridians to pay twice for the same program, the Associated Press reports.