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Health News Florida

Medicaid Expansion Bill Filed in House

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A bill that would provide health insurance coverage to Floridians under the poverty level by accepting federal funds available for that purpose has been filed in the Florida House of Representatives.

The bill, similar to  one the Florida Senate passed last session, was filed by Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey. It would expand the number of Floridians who qualify for coverage, using Medicaid funds, but placing them in a non-profit called Healthy Florida, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Healthy Florida would be an expansion of Healthy Kids, which has a track record of using federal funds to help uninsured families cover their children, based on a sliding scale. The initiative would operate independently of Florida’s Medicaid program.

"Filing this bill will open the door for us to revisit taking the much needed Medicaid expansion dollars," Murphy said in a press release. "It would be irresponsible to leave our tax dollars on the table while there are still too many Floridians left without access to affordable and quality healthcare."

Studies have estimated that Florida could tap $51 billion in federal funds over 10 years, with the first three years fully covered and then tapering to 90 percent.

The state Senate passed a similar bill by an overwhelming margin in 2013, but the House rejected it. Last week, State Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, filed a bill similar to the one that passed last year.

Not taking the federal funds that have been allocated is "irresponsible," Garcia said.

But House Speaker Will Weatherford is holding firm to his opposition to taking the federal funding, indicating the split between the Senate and House will persist.