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Will Others Get FL $ Billions?

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.

A new study that lays out what each state stands to gain or lose in Medicaid expansion makes sober reading for Floridians. It says if the state sticks with the decision to boycott, Florida will not only forfeit billions of dollars each year but also send its own billions in tax money to subsidize health care in other states.

The analysis  published by the Commonwealth Fund looked at the year 2012 and concluded:

-- If the state is participating in Medicaid expansion, it will receive $9.6 billion in federal funds to support the Medicaid expansion population. That's four times as much as the state is forecast to receive in federal highway funds and a bit more than half as much as it could get in defense contracts.

--If the state is not participating and others are, then about $5 billion in tax revenue from Florida would flow to other states to support their Medicaid expansion programs. Among the states, only Texas stands to lose more by boycotting.

--The state's share of cost for the Medicaid expansion program that year would be about $1.2 billion -- less than one-fourth as much as the state is forecast to spend to attract businesses.

The authors, a New York University professor and graduate student, concluded that in addition to providing health-care access to those below the poverty level and payment to hospitals and other health-care providers, Medicaid expansion represents a positive flow of dollars that can boost states' economies.

The analysis was sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund, which supports the goal of health-care access for all Americans.  It was written Sherry Glied, dean of the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University and a top official in the Health and Human Services Department until 2012, and Stephanie Ma, a researcher at the Wagner School.

In the 2013 legislative session, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Senate supported a plan that would accept the federal funds to cover those under the poverty level not with Medicaid,  but private plans. The federal government had signaled it would accept the substitute.

However, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said no. Only one Republican broke ranks to join Democrats in supporting the Senate plan, so it failed.

In recent days, Weatherford has reiterated his opposition, dimming chances the issue will resurface in the 2014 session. The author of the Senate plan, Joe Negron, has said he has no plans to try again because he thinks it's pointless.

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.