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Bye-bye to 'Teeny Weeny Bean Plan'?

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

The proposal that even its sponsor now calls the "Teeny Weeny Bean Plan" may be on its last legs.

Sen. Aaron Bean's small-budget plan for some of Florida's low-income uninsured was approved in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday along with the more robust Healthy Florida plan by Sen. Joe Negron.

But Sen. John Thrasher, a close advisor to Senate President Don Gaetz, said he doubted the smaller plan would get a floor vote, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Bean wasn't daunted; he'd said all along that he knew his plan was small-potatoes, but offered a possible olive branch to the House.

With just 10 days to go in the legislative session, the House and Senate appear hunkered down and ready to pass health plans that bear no resemblance to one another.

In fact, there's about $50 billion worth of difference between the plans ready for floor votes. The Senate would accept federal funds that are linked to the Affordable Care Act; the House wouldn't.

As the Associated Press reports, House Speaker Will Weatherford appeared unconcerned that the two may not reach agreement, saying "it doesn't mean that the world would come to an end."

Negron's Healthy Florida plan, modeled after one just passed in Arkansas, would accept $51 billion over 10 years to cover 1.1 million uninsured low-income Floridians under the Affordable Care Act. Instead of expanding traditional Medicaid, as the ACA called for, it would subsidize private plans -- a move that would require federal approval.

Having been passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, Healthy Florida is ready to go to the Senate floor.

Meanwhile, the House's plan, Health Choices Plus, was approved by that chamber's Appropriations Committee.  It would reject any money tied to the ACA, instead allocating about $237 million in state funds to offer a $2,000 subsidy to low-income parents.

Supporters say it is wise not to rely on the federal government. Critics of the House plan say the subsidies are so low that enrollees would not be able to find decent insurance or pay the deductibles.

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.