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Medicaid expansion would bring jobs and money, advocates say

by John Kennedy | February 20th, 2013

Supporters pushing Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve Medicaid expansion under the federal health care overhaul said the move would provide a needed jolt to Florida’s still-fragile economy.

Families USA released a report that said making more lower-income Floridians eligible for health coverage under Medicaid will yield 71,300 new jobs and pump $8.9 billion more in economic activity into the state.

Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said given the broad social and economic reach of a Medicaid expansion, “A refusal would be an act of fiscal malpractice.”

House and Senate committtees examining the Affordable Care Act and its effect on Florida are looking likely to recommend a direction on Medicaid expansion by early March.  Among the considerations, is whether the federal government will approve the state’s 2011 request to move most of the state’s current 3.2 million Medicaid enrollees into managed care.

Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, chairman of the Senate panel reviewing the law, told the Palm Beach Post there is “clearly a nexus between the two.”

“Without the waiver, we are not likely to move ahead with expansion,” Negron said.

Federal officials have been negotiating with the state for two years on the managed care shift, but the two sides are expected to be close to reaching agreement.

Families USA, a health care advocacy organization, said that many of the new jobs it forecasts will be created in the health care industry, already a huge employer in Florida. But the amount of revenue pumped into the state with the expansion — which could amount to $26 billion over the next decade — will also course through many areas of the workforce, the report concludes.

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