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Session Could End With No Medicaid Deal

With the Florida House unwilling to accept federal funds to cover 1 million low-income uninsured Floridians, top lawmakers in the Senate say the legislative session could end May 3 with a forfeit of billions of dollars available for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

State Sen. John Thrasher, a close advisor to Senate President Don Gaetz, said expansion is a "big, complicated issue" that takes time to resolve.  Thus it might have to be pushed back to next year, he told the Times/Herald Bureau.

Hospitals and consumer advocates strongly disagree, and so does Tom Feeney, executive director of Associated Industries of Florida. Pushing the issue back by a year means Florida would forego the $5 billion in federal funds that will be available Jan. 1, 2014.

While a similar sum will be offered in each of the following  two years, that first $5 billion will be gone forever if the session ends without an agreement to accept it. Hospitals, particularly, say they will be in financial trouble without that money.

Feeney told the Times that "it makes no sense to walk away from $5 billion a year,’’ he said.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.