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Crisafulli: Medicaid Expansion Not Popular 'On the Street'

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Florida Legislature
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Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli  is reiterating his opposition  "to Obamacare and Medicaid expansion" as the issue continues lurching toward a crisis in the Legislature.

The Senate supports the expansion for about 850,000 Floridians who currently qualify neither for Medicaid nor health insurance available on HealthCare.gov.

The dispute between the chambers -- and their related budget differences -- now threaten to delay the Legislature's scheduled adjournment on May 1.

Crisafulli told reporters that expanding Medicaid is a step down a road that has killed political careers.

“If you go into a federal program like that, you will soon find out what it means to be married to Washington. There're folks that are not in this chamber today because of that very issue,” he said. “People spoke in those districts and we feel like Medicaid expansion is not a very popular issue on the street.”

Democrats warn that not expanding Medicaid could be the death of safety-net hospitals such as Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and Tampa General Hospital. Medicaid officials would no longer reimburse them for the cost of uncompensated care.

Crisafulli agreed the hospitals may be at risk, but he said it's another example of the federal government pulling out of a program that states rely on.

Rick Stone is a reporter for WLRN in Miami. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.