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Medicaid Dispute Still Threatens On-Time Legislative Adjournment

An undated photo of the House chamber in the state capitol.
An undated photo of the House chamber in the state capitol.
An undated photo of the House chamber in the state capitol.
Credit Steven Martin / Flickr/Creative Commons
An undated photo of the House chamber in the state capitol.

Unionized medical staff from Jackson Health System taunted Governor Rick Scott in the capitol rotunda over his opposition to expanding Medicaid.

Democratic Senator Oscar Braynon of Broward County joined them to say the governor's intransigence would have consequences.

"In theory we may lose our public hospitals, in theory people may not get health coverage, in theory people will actually die as a result of this," Braynon said.

Medicaid officials have warned Florida they will longer reimburse safety net hospitals for the cost of treating uninsured patients unless Medicaid is expanded. That prompted Governor Scott to promise a lawsuit over what he considers illegal coercion.

The Senate has already approved a form of Medicaid expansion. The problem is in the House. And House Speaker Steve Crisafulli confirmed, it's still a problem.

"As we stand here today we're still opposed to Obamacare and Medicaid expansion," Crisafulli said.

Because one chamber is planning for Medicaid expansion and the other isn't, their budgets are $4 billion apart -- too big a gap, many say, to be bridged in the remaining two weeks of the legislative session. House Democratic leader Mark Pafford said with the right leadership, no overtime session would be necessary.

"I think we could get out of here May 1 if cooler heads prevail and people begin thinking about doing what's right for the people of Florida," Pafford said.

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