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Hospital CEO: Medicaid Expansion Not Lost Cause

Florida Hospital

Florida tops the nation with the number of residents getting subsidies to buy health insurance through the federal health insurance exchange. One reason: state legislators decided against expanding Medicaid, the state’s health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

Florida Hospital CEO Lars Houmann was in Tallahassee as the legislative session kicked off, urging lawmakers to take billions of dollars and give health care to nearly a million more Floridians.

Houmann spoke with Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya about the strategy to focus on convincing members of the Florida House of Representatives to change their minds.

“The economy has rebounded but there are some 800,000 people not participating in the health care economy,” Houmann said. “While we may have added some 700,000 new jobs, a good number of those, the majority of those, don’t have health insurance. So you’re getting half a sandwich.”

Why are you so vocal about this?

“To me it’s an economic development issue,” Houmann said. “We have a disadvantage as a community and as a state when we have a hidden tax on all the employers and individuals who are choosing to or have to get health insurance.”

I’ve had several people tell me that this doesn’t have a shot in the House this session. Do you feel like this is a lost cause?

“I don’t spend energy on lost causes,” Houmann said. “I don’t believe that for a minute. There is a chance. We just have to keep pushing on it until something opens up on it. If we end up in special session, so be it.”

Abe Aboraya is a reporter with WMFE in Orlando. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.