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FL Senate Could Reconsider Expansion

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 Senate President Andy Gardiner is leaving open the possibility that his chamber will consider an expansion of health care coverage for low-income Floridians.

“Intriguing" was the word Gardiner used on Wednesday for a plan from business and hospital leaders that would accept billions of dollars under the federal Affordable Care Act and provide coverage through private insurers. The plan, called "A Healthy Florida Works," was introduced last week.

Gardiner said while the Florida Legislature hasn't been willing to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, the new plan might be more palatable.

“Without that complete flexibility from the federal government, it really ties your hands and your ability to negotiate something," he said. "But, certainly we are open for whatever the dialogues may be that the members want to do.”

Some elements of the proposal, which would need both state and federal approval, are similar to a plan pushed by Senate Republican leaders in 2013.

It would target the 800,000 to 1 million Florida residents who otherwise would be part of a Medicaid expansion.

Tallahassee businessman Kim Williams, the president of Marpan Recycling, says the plan would help businesses and workers alike.

“Treating people before they are chronically or critically ill makes them healthier, and perhaps able to work for a living and provide for their families," he said. "And, it’s at a lower cost for everybody involved.”

The plan would be mostly funded through federal money under the Affordable Care Act, but would use a state-run private insurance marketplace, where eligible people could choose among health plans.

Also, it would require participants to be involved in such activities as job searches, job training or educational programs.

WLRN is a partner in Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.