Gaetz: Medicaid without physician support ‘cruel joke’

Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 04:09 PM.

CHIPLEY — Providing Medicaid benefits to people without improving the incentives for physicians to accept federal benefits is a “cruel joke,” said Sen. Don Gaetz on Tuesday.

Gaetz (R-Niceville) met with Northwest Florida Community Hospital CEO and President Pat Schlenker and a handful of doctors and hospital staff when the Senator was in Northwest Florida for a “Neighborhood Day.”

“For the federal government, Medicaid reform was all or nothing,” Gaetz said. “The governor went from saying ‘no, no, hell no,’ to ‘may I have two scoops please?’”

The Florida Legislature adjourned in May without expanding the state's Medicaid program, passing up more than $50 billion in federal funding and dealing a defeat to Gov. Rick Scott.

And with little fanfare, perhaps the most controversial issue of the session fizzled, leaving roughly 1.1 million Floridians uninsured for now. It was unclear whether Scott will call a special session or if the issue will still be unsettled when the Legislature reconvenes next March.

The Senate had passed a bill supported by Scott, but the House Republican leadership had refused to consider it, so the bill died at adjournment.

The House and the Senate had different ideas of what Medicaid reform should look like in Florida, but in the end, the state took Washington’s mandates.

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