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If FL Says No to Medicaid $, It's 'Fiscal Malpractice': Families USA

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida would gain more than 70,000 jobs and almost $9 billion in added economic activity by the third year if the state decides to expand Medicaid, according to a new study released Wednesday.

Families USA, a consumer group that supported passage of the ACA,  forecast that economic ripple effect would result from the addition of almost $5 billion in federal payments to health-care providers in the state in 2016.

The added jobs would not just be in health care, but in a wide range of business sectors, said officials from Families USA and the in-state consumer group Florida CHAIN in a phone call with the press.

“The Medicaid expansion is a win-win-win proposition for the people of Florida,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. “It would reduce the number of people who can’t afford health care; it will increase the number of jobs throughout the state; and it will strengthen the state’s economy.”

He added that if the state says no to the federal funding, it "would be an act of fiscal malpractice."

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the health-care advocacy group Florida CHAIN, said "Every Floridian has a stake in this decision . . .Expanding Medicaid just makes sense.

"We need to lower the hidden tax of $1,000 that every policyholder pays" to cover the cost of the uninsured, she said.

The Affordable Care Act encouraged states to expand coverage under Medicaid to those with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level by offering full federal funding for 2014-16. After that, the funding tapers to 90 percent by 2020 and remains at that level, under the law.

Currently, the federal share of Medicaid funding in Florida is 58 percent.

As written, the health law required states to expand their Medicaid programs. However, the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that the federal government could not force states to expand.

Most of the Northeastern states and the coastal West have said yes to the expansion, according to this map by The Advisory Board. Most Southern states and some in the mountain West have said no.

Florida's Legislature will take up the matter in the session that begins March 5.

The full report, Florida's Economy Will Benefit from Expanding Medicaid, is on the Families USA website.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.