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Nelson to Gaetz: Blame House, Not Feds

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.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson says the Florida House and not the federal government is to blame for the state's lack of Medicaid expansion.

Nelson, a Democrat, is responding to Sen. President Don Gaetz's letterlast week to Sylvia Burwell, nominee for Secretary of Health & Human Services. In it, Gaetz, a Republican, said states need more authority to design their own programs for the Medicaid expansion. In Florida, that includes about 800,000 poor adults.

In his  letter, Nelson said though the Senate showed signs last year that it wants to expand Medicaid, Gaetz should blame his Legislative counterparts.

"It was the unwillingness of the Florida House - not the Federal government - to compromise what was ultimately responsible for a final bill falling short of the Governor's desk," he wrote in the letter dated April 18.

Gaetz's letterspecifically asks that Florida be allowed to implement a partial or gradual expansion to include adults up to 138 percent of the poverty level. It also asked for flexibility to charge enrollees for the health coverage, depending on income. And he requested a lifting of some bureaucratic paperwork.

But Nelson said that's not what the Affordable Care Act allows.

"Expansion must be statewide and it must not impose unreasonable costs on this vulnerable population," Nelson wrote.

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.