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Florida Matters: Medicaid Expansion (AUDIO)

Lottie Watts

Florida lawmakers were unable to agree on a plan to expand health care coverage for more low-income Floridians.  We talked to three state representatives about that issue for this week’s episode of Florida Matters, which aired Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. on WUSF89.7

If you missed it, you can download the audio online

The Florida Senate and Governor Rick Scott were willing to take billions in federal money to help uninsured Floridians get health care; the Florida House didn't want anything to do with federal money. 

WUSF’s Carson Cooper talked with Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, and Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, about the reasons why the expansion was rejected.

Dudley suggested Florida turned down money that Florida taxpayers sent to Washington.

“It is our money and we deserve to have it spent in the best way it could be, and that is helping working people and helping poor people have health care,” Dudley said. “It’s a reasonable, principled thing to do. That’s what should be done.”

Cruz said most hospital associations are in favor of the expansion.

“They’re brunting the expense of the emergency room,” Cruz said. “We go back to that theory of emergency room care over preventative care and it’s very simple. Poor folks go to the emergency room when they have an earache.”

While some Republicans say they didn’t believe the federal government would keep its promise to fund to expansion, Cummings said that wasn’t the reason he voted against expansion.  He worries that the federal government would take money from other areas, such as Medicare or Social Security, to fund the expansion.

“Clearly, these dollars have to come from somewhere,” Cummings said.

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.