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Senator Bill Nelson tries to revive Medicaid expansion in Florida

New plan would redirect county hospital funding toward federal health-care money draw-down

Photo: Photo by Meredith Hill, myfloridahouse.gov, License: N/A

Photo by Meredith Hill, myfloridahouse.gov



8 million

Number of U.S. citizens who have signed up on the Affordable Care Act’s state and federal marketplaces as of April 15, according to President Barack Obama


3.8 million

Estimated number of uninsured Floridians, with more than 700,000 of them falling into the Medicaid-expansion gap that keeps them from getting federal subsidies or qualifying for Medicaid



Amount Senator Bill Nelson, D-Florida, is proposing that 32 Florida counties – which currently draw on local funds to boost Medicaid funding at their hospitals – redirect toward drawing down the $51 billion in federal Medicaid-expansion funding currently being refused by the Florida legislature


Would that we could say that this was the week that changed everything in the Tallahassee hive mind – the legislative session ends on May 2, after all, so the bourbon is almost dry – and all the rainbows and tulips and daisies of beautiful, magnanimous reason bled into the background creating a logical sight to behold: Medicaid expansion.

It wasn’t that week. But it was a week of some boat-rocking, some deal-making, some games of telephone in which messages got crossed like so many strings attached to so many cups resulting in confusing missives that, in the end, don’t seem to indicate that there will be a Hail Mary save for the working poor in this state. It’s just a governmental kaleidoscope. Look at all the moving parts. It’s the journey, not the destination.

Because this argument is becoming more like a young-adult fantasy novel than a political debate (scratch that; one and the same), the fact that U.S. Senator Bill Nelson from the stars and galaxies has been moving and shaking through his home state with a “secret plan” to fix all of this nonsense might not seem so strange. While some of us were hoping that would involve a shirtless House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, tied up in a sling, it was really all more logical and yet somehow less decipherable than that. Thirty-two of Florida’s 67 counties currently utilize local funds to help increase Medicaid funding for the poor and indigent in their local hospitals (coincidentally, the federal government approved $2 billion in more funding for the so-called “low-income pool” on April 11). Nelson’s big scheme – which, as we’ve noted, has been in the Chamber of Secrets for weeks now – is to have those 32 counties pool their financial commitments to public hospitals in order to come up with the $3.5 billion the state would need in order to draw down the $51 billion that the Department of Health and Human Services has promised Florida in order for the state to expand its Medicaid program to include the more than 700,000 people in the “gap,” should the state be so inclined.

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