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Critics Pan Lack Of Medicaid Expansion In House Budget Plan

The Florida House of Representatives chamber
The Florida House approved a proposed state budget Thursday for the upcoming fiscal year.

State Rep. Omari Hardy, D-West Palm Beach, and Rep. Dotie Joseph, D-North Miami, are among those to express their disappointment in the health spending proposal.

The Florida House approved a proposed state budget Thursday for the upcoming fiscal year that includes funding to extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers. Uninsured mothers would get 12 months of Medicaid, up from two.

During discussion on the House floor, though, two Democratic representatives from South Florida said they’re disappointed because the budget doesn't include Medicaid expansion to cover more people.

State Rep. Omari Hardy, D-West Palm Beach, voted against the budget.

"Do we value health care for working class and poor Floridians? No, because this budget doesn't reflect an expansion of Medicaid even though the federal government is throwing money at us," he said.

Rep. Dotie Joseph, D-North Miami, voted for the budget but said Florida’s leaving too much money on the table.

"This is not about philosophy," Joseph said. "This is about people. People need that money, Republicans and Democrats alike."

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government covers 90% of the cost to expand Medicaid in Florida. The recent $1.9 trillion federal COVID-19 relief measure signed by President Joe Biden also offers extra money to incentivize the 12 Medicaid expansion holdout states, which includes Florida.

“They call that free money. We've made this mistake before with high-speed rail. We said ‘Oh, no. Keep the money. Give it back to the Treasury.’ Well, of course. They don't do that in Washington. They just turned around and gave our billions to California,” Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura, told News Service of Florida.

State Republican lawmakers have said if the federal expansion money were to get reduced, the state would be left covering the bills.

House lawmakers will next negotiate with the Senate to agree on a final spending plan that would then head to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Verónica Zaragovia