Democrats in Congress are ready to start voting on an inflation deal this weekend.
But the deal does not expand health coverage for people with incomes close to poverty level.
About 800,000 Floridians will be left uninsured, and the next cover-up may not come until 2024.
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When Democrats in Congress announced last year that they were working on a massive spending bill to transform America's social safety net, health care advocates in Florida were optimistic that there might finally be a way to get multi-person medical coverage.
Last week, however, their hopes were dashed. One of the many elements that hit the cutting room in the $ 740 billion compromise of the Democrats’ Reducing Inflation Act was a provision to evade Republican state lawmakers to expand Medicaid to nearly 800,000 Floridians.
The omission comes as a major blow to Florida’s uninsured, particularly at a time when many are worried about a recession and residents are already facing high costs at the grocery store and gas pump, as well as rental bills in increase, health care advocates say.
“It’s definitely a missed opportunity, especially if the whole thing is about inflation and the impacts of inflation,” Scott Darius, executive director of the non-profit defense group Florida Voices for Health, told Insider.
Florida is among 12 Republican-led states that refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Under the law, states pay 10% of the costs while the federal government collects 90% of the ballot.
Florida isn’t likely to have a chance to expand Medicaid until 2024 at the earliest. Healthcare advocates and Florida Democrats have little faith that Republicans in the state legislature will change their stance against Medicaid expansion, so they hope to put the matter up for a vote in the 2024 election to have voters weigh directly. .
“The vote size is our best chance of getting Medicaid expansion approved,” Senator Shevrin Jones, a Miami Gardens Democrat who sits on the state Senate health policy committee, told Insider.
“This should be the top priority for us, but Republicans have shown us time and time again that they are not interested in what makes sense,” Jones added. “They are interested in what feeds their base.”
In 2021, President Joe Biden's $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus bailout package tried to sweeten the Medicaid deal by bearing state costs for two years, but Florida has yet to agree. Republican Governor Ron. DeSantis' office told the Washington Post in March 2021 that he "remains opposed to the expansion of Medicaid in Florida."
The governor’s office and several other GOP leaders in the state legislature did not answer Insider’s questions about whether circumstances, such as a recession, could alter their stance on Medicaid expansion.
Republicans have expressed concern over rising health care costs, citing fears that the federal government may one day recover Medicaid payments.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls, a Republican from Palm Harbor, said he thinks Medicaid should only go towards the most vulnerable residents, rather than relying on income, he told the Orlando Sentinel in March 2021.
Under Obamacare, people who earn $ 13,590 or less for an individual or $ 27,750 for a family of four qualify to enroll in Medicaid. This raises objections from Republicans as it does not take into account disability or employment status.
Rev. Vanessa Tinsley, executive director of Bridge to Hope, a Miami-based community organization whose services include a food program, said the narrative about people on Medicaid was not true. Many of the clients it serves have jobs and degrees.
“It’s not about hard work – we have it here – but they work very hard with low-paying jobs,” he said, adding that even though Florida has raised the minimum wage, it hasn’t kept up with rising rents. A major medical problem can evaporate savings or raises, she said.
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