Scott sounds populist theme in calling for Medicaid expansionby John Kennedy | February 20th, 2013
Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday he wants to expand Florida’s Medicaid program to add what experts say is about 1 million lower-income patients to the rolls, endorsing a key provision of the federal health care overhaul he earlier vigorously fought.
Scott announced his change of heart only hours after the Obama admininstration said it was nearing approval of the state’s 2011 plan to revamp the program and steer most of Florida’s 3.5 million Medicaid patients into managed care plans. Florida officials have forecast big cost savings by moving patients into HMOs and other managed care programs.
Scott did not say directly that the two actions were connected. But Wednesday’s developments led Scott to make a distinctly personal appeal to the Florida Legislature to move ahead with the Medicaid expansion.
Scott reflected on the death of his mother, Esther, last fall. He recalled her struggle in assuring health coverage for their family and said no Floridians should face similar challenges.
“No mother of father should despair over whether or not they can afford — or access — the health care their child needs,” Scott said in a brief news conference at the Governor’s Mansion.
Scott, who faces re-election next year and continues to earn low approval ratings in most polls from Floridians, sounded a populist theme in prodding his fellow Republicans in the Legislature.
“Quality health care services must be accessible and affordalbe for all — not just those in certain zip codes or tax brackets,” Scott said.
House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, was quick to tap the brakes on Scott’s plan.
“Tthe Florida Legislature will make the ultimate decision,” Weatherford said, in a statement released minutes before Scott even made his announcement. “I am personally skeptical that this inflexible law will improve the quality of healthcare in our state and ensure our long-term financial stability.”
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