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Senate Passes Plan, But Its Future Uncertain

Lawmakers in the Florida Senate voted 38 to 1 to pass the bill to create the Healthy Florida plan, state Sen. Joe Negron's alternative to Medicaid expansion.  

It accepts federal funds to provide premium assistance for about 1.1 million Floridians to buy health insurance.

Negron said people who receive the assistance will be responsible for co-pays and deductibles.

"This is not a giveaway program," Negron said. 

State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, was the only senator who voted against the bill. 

The Senate plan is very different from the one the House adopted, which rejects federal funds and covers about 115,000.  

Negron, R-Stuart, said yesterday he's doubtful the two chambers will reach a compromise. The bill is now on its way to the House, where lawmakers last week rejected the Senate plan. 

Lottie Watts covers health and health policy for Health News Florida, now a part of WUSF Public Media. She also produces Florida Matters, WUSF's weekly public affairs show.