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Advocates: Florida Should Accept Medicaid Expansion Funds

More than one million Florida residents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, yet not enough to purchase their own health insurance policies through the federal exchange available under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Previously, states were required to maintain certain national and federal standards concerning eligibility for Medicaid. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could choose to opt out of Medicaid eligibility expansion.

Also in 2012, the U.S. government offered the state of Florida $50 billion over the next 10 years as part of the Affordable Care Act. This expansion money was designated for expanding Medicaid to low-income families in Florida who did not qualify under the former requirements for eligibility — making it easier for those who fall into the coverage gap to qualify. However, the state legislature and governor rejected the offer. The funds were also offered in 2013, but were rejected once again.

Over the past year, many states that previously refused expansion funding have adjusted course and proceed in accepting these funds. Medical professionals and business advocates are urging Florida to join the list of mostly Republican-controlled states that have chosen to expand in a 2015 legislative proposal called Healthy Florida Works. The proposal is intended to address and incorporate previously failed attempts, in addition to adding new guidelines in the hopes of capitulating to those who fall on both sides of the political spectrum.

Opponents of these measures generally believe that the state is unable to afford Medicaid expansion. However, major hospitals throughout Florida may experience as much as $500 million in losses of federal funding when treating uninsured patients, putting greater financial pressure on the state legislature and governor to reconsider their stance on the issue.

For more information on this issue and to learn more about engaging in sound Medicaid planning in Florida, consult a dedicated lawyer with the Charles Law Offices.

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