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Happytown: Healthy Kids program seen as replacement for Medicaid expansion

Sen. Joe Stuart says proposal would save state $127 million

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Negron’s plan, which he projects will be $127 million cheaper per year than Medicaid expansion, shifts much of the burden onto patients, though in a measured way. Patients would pay premiums, but those premiums could be subsidized by federal funds on a sliding scale (based on income) and a credit system that rewards healthy choices. Medicaid, you’ll recall, is free. And emergency rooms are still really convenient. In a sense, it’s the kind of medical-insurance exchange that Republicans barked at for the past few years, which makes this hastily cobbled-together scheme seem that much more suspect. No, apparently, means yes.

Senate Democrats are keeping an eye on the proposal, but are showing some interest in moving it forward, because what else are they going to do? The Dems issued a slightly snide reaction via press release that “welcomed the endorsement by Republican lawmakers of expanding Medicaid in Florida – after they rejected it.

But this game of political gotcha doesn’t necessarily mean that the state won’t be losing the $55 billion anyway. In order for Negron’s plan to succeed, stubborn House Hunk Weatherford – who hates everything about the expansion – would have to move it through the House of Representatives, the governor (who seems to like the plan, but whatever) would have to approve it, and then there’s the tiny detail of the federal government approving the old switcheroo, which is in no way certain. Just like Florida’s future, then.

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