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Health News Florida

Speaker Denies 'Arm-Twisting' on Health Plan

House_Speaker_Will_Weatherford.jpg

Two future Speakers of the House -- who will control some campaign contributions for other House members in upcoming elections -- had a dinner for freshmen Republicans on Tuesday night to talk about the Medicaid-expansion bill, but accounts of the dinner diverge.

An account by Tia Mitchell on the Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog raises the question of whether the dinner was held to keep GOP members in line. Another article, this one by Mary Ellen Klas of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau, quotes Speaker Will Weatherford denying that he's having to "twist arms."

State Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, says the meeting was held to explain the House plan (HB 7169) and answer questions, according to Mitchell's story. He says he's angry that supporters of the rival Senate plan (SB 1816) are running ads that put pressure on Republican House members who are in vulnerable districts.

Corcoran can apply pressure of his own, since House Speakers have a great deal of control over campaign contributions.

State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said some of the freshmen Republicans who attended the meeting felt they were being subtly threatened if they considered voting against the House plan. Fasano has offered an amendment that would effectively replace the House plan with the Senate plan, and said some GOP members want to support it but are afraid to. He did not name them.

The plans differ in two major ways: The Senate plan would take an estimated $51 billion in federal funds over a decade and would cover 1.1 million uninsured low-income Floridians. The House plan would not accept federal funds and would use only state revenue to cover 115,000 parents of young children and disabled adults below the federal poverty level.

The House and Senate are in negotiations.