Florida's Obamacare-hating governor takes Medicaid expansion
Florida Gov. Rick Scott | AP photo
The Kansas City Star
Here’s the Friday update on the hot topic of Medicaid expansion.
The week’s biggest development took place in Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott announced he’ll try to persuade his legislature to accept the expansion.
This is a huge development. Scott is a strident Obamacare opponent, and Florida led the legal effort to challenge the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that states expand their Medicaid eligibility thresholds to 133 percent of the poverty level.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with Florida and some other states that it was coercion for the federal government to withhold existing Medicaid funding to states that didn’t participate in the expansion. That made the choice optional.
Some GOP governors, most notably Rick Perry of Texas, have indicated they’d rather chew nails than expand an entitlement. But other high-profile Republicans — Perry being the latest — have yielded to common sense.
There are all kinds of reasons to do the expansion. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs the first three years and never less than 90 percent. That kind of money will act as an economic engine and enable states to rapidly expand their health care networks. It will keep many hospitals financially viable. And it will avoid the creation of a medical doughnut hole, whereby people in a certain low-income bracket will be unable to obtain either private or government insurance.
Meanwhile, back on the home front, Democrats in the Missouri House introduced a bill calling for the state to expand Medicaid eligibility from its ridiculously low level of 19 percent of the federal poverty level to 133 percent. That legislation won’t get much attention in the heavily Republican capitol, but some GOP House members are expected to unveil their own legislation next week. They probably won’t exactly call the expansion an expansion, but rather a new, “Missouri way” of transforming Medicaid. Call it what you want, if it gets people a way to see a doctor when they’re sick, it’s a good thing.
In Kansas, everyone is still waiting for Gov. Sam Brownback to say what he wants to do. With any luck, Scott’s announcement will help push him along.