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House Panel Passes Alternative Health Plan, Rejects Federal Funds

The House Appropriations Committee today passed HB 7169, a measure that creates a program called Florida Health Choices Plus, that will cover about 115,000 people.  

The committee rejected a strike-all amendment from state Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, that would have directed the state Agency for Healthcare Administration to accept federal funds and extend  the state Medicaid program under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The amendment would have meant health coverage for more than 1 million Floridians, including childless adults. 

Jones said the state would have gained $1.2 billion over the next 10 years from the federal government with her amendment.

"Let's draw down the federal dollars," Jones said. "Let's make sure that we do our fair share to make sure that over 1.2 million Floridians will get healthcare coverage that they deserve." 

But Republicans stayed firm in their opposition to accept federal funds to help uninsured Floridians get coverage.

"Our budget is replete with situations where the federal government has provided money for programs and then said, we're done, leaving the state with the tab," said state Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville. "What the government giveth, the government taketh away."

The panel voted down the amendment, and approved the bill to create the plan that does not accept federal funding. 

For more detail, see this account from News Service of Florida.

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.