Florida makes U-turn on Medicaid expansion

Gov. Rick Scott drops long-standing objections to expanding the program
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In a sudden about-face after months of fighting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has given the go-ahead to expand the state's Medicaid program, The New York Times reported.

The decision by Scott is significant because of Florida's sizable population--an estimated 1 million residents would be eligible for Medicaid coverage under the expansion and would significantly reduce the uncompensated care burden shouldered by the Sunshine State's hospitals, the article noted.

But unlike the six Republican governors who also commit to Medicaid expansion, Scott's Medicaid decision comes with a catch--he only wants to expand Medicaid for three years, up to the point when the federal government will stop paying 100 percent of the expansion's costs, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

The Scott's decision is apparently softening the hard-line stance of other red states that have been hostile to the reform law. For instance, Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry has said he would not expand the program, may now be open to compromise and seek a waiver to run the program on the its own terms, according to The Texas Tribune.

Despite Scott's change of heart, expanding Medicaid will still require the approval of the Florida Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans and remains suspicious of the ACA at best, reported The Miami Herald.

"I remain skeptical that that's in the best interests of the state," Seth McKeel, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, told the Herald. Similar sentiments were expressed by House Speaker Will Weatherford as well.

For more:
- read the Times article
- here's the Miami Herald article
- read the Texas Tribune article

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