Senators to Hear Conflicting Medicaid Forecasts

Feb 11, 2013

Sen. Joe Negron will chair the hearing.

Florida senators will be confronted with a barrage of data today when they hold hearings on the likely consequences of expanding Medicaid as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 

(In other health-law news, next year the state government and universities will no longer be able to employ temps and part-timers without offering them coverage, a prospect that is costly and complex, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Also, the federal government has posted a test site for its coming exchange, which will likely be the one that Floridians who don't have employer coverage end up using to shop for 2014 policies, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.)

As for today’s hearing, materials in the meeting packet indicate that two of those testifying will forecast a net economic gain for the state if the Legislature votes for the expansion. The other two will forecast an economic debacle, based on past experiments with Medicaid in other states.

Then, hospital CEOs are scheduled to plead with the senators to let the expansion go forward, since they will otherwise be left in the lurch.  State and federal funds that prop up hospitals’ treatment of the uninsured are due to disappear under the health law, since it assumed that nearly everyone would have coverage.

But the Supreme Court last June said the federal government could not force states to expand Medicaid, and left it up to each state to decide. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has said he opposes expansion, but the Legislature has yet to weigh in.

Those who will testify today in support of expansion include Joan Alker, co-executive director  of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, and Greg Mellowe, director of Health Research and Analysis for the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy.

Those who are scheduled to testify against the expansion are Tarren Bragdon, president and CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability, and Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

The Florida Channel is scheduled to broadcast the event online starting at 2 p.m.