Gaetz: Medicaid without physician support ‘cruel joke’

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

Gaetz said he supported increasing physician reimbursements under Medicaid as a means to encourage more physicians to accept the benefits.

It once seemed obvious that Medicaid expansion wouldn't happen in Florida, as Scott had entered politics in 2009 running national cable TV commercials criticizing the President Barack Obama's health care plan.

Scott made a dramatic about-face when he announced his support for Medicaid expansion under Obama's Affordable Care Act, calling it the "compassionate" and "common sense" choice since the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the law sometimes called "Obamacare." But the House and Senate voted against a straight Medicaid expansion early in the session, saying they didn't want to expand an already broken system.

Scott, the Senate, House Democrats, Florida hospitals, health advocates and a diverse mix of business and labor groups all lined up in support of a bill proposed by Republican Sen. Joe Negron that would have drawn down more than $50 billion from the federal government over the next decade and given it to an estimated 1.1 million Floridians to purchase private insurance.

The proposal would have saved the state money, but House Republicans resisted accepting any funding tied to the federal law and instead passed a bill that would use $237 million in state funds to cover about 115,000 residents. The Obama administration has sought to offer health insurance to more Americans by extending the Medicaid eligibility levels to those making up to 138 percent of the poverty level. But the House plan only addressed residents making at or below 100 percent. That's roughly $11,000 a year for a single person and about $19,500 for family of three.

Scott slammed that plan, saying it would doubly tax Florida families as they would be paying federal taxes to pay for people in other states but would get no benefit themselves.

“Just because we give you a Medicaid card, doesn’t guarantee you will have access to health care,” Gaetz said. “I learned from my experience as a hospital administrator that nothing happens in a hospital until a doctor signs an order.”

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