Senate Prez Andy Gardiner says bipartisan biz plan may bring hope to Medicaid expansion

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Senate President Andy Gardiner on Wednesday softened the hardline, anti-Medicaid expansion rhetoric at the Capitol.

The Senate President told a group of reporters that he expects there will be a bill filed in the Senate to expand Medicaid to cover uninsured working adults who don’t make enough money to qualify for vouchers to buy qualified health plans–commonly called Obamacare plans– through the federal exchange but make too much money to qualify for the current Medicaid program.

“Certainly, the Senate has shown willingness,” Gardiner said when asked about Medicaid expansion under the federal health care law. “We are wiling to have that discussion.”

When pressed for details later, Gardiner told SaintPetersBlog: “I think if there’s hope, I actually think it’s the business community plan. You have the hospital association, you  have Tom Feeney there at AIF. So that might give you some hope.”

Gardiner is referencing the A Healthy Florida Works plan. The plan would expand Medicaid to 800,000 uninsured Floridians and borrows from ideas that Florida has considered in the past.

Another sign that there’s hope in the Senate for Medicaid expansion is Gardiner’s decision to appoint Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Miami, as chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations subcommittee, which is in charge of Medicaid spending decisions.

Garcia has been an advocate for Medicaid expansion.

Florida is one of 23 Republican-led states that did not expand Medicaid following the Supreme Court of the United States ruling in 2012 that made the expansion optional. Gov. Rick Scott said he supports a limited Medicaid expansion but his support has been tepid and he never lobbied the Legislature to pass an expansion.

Gardiner did, though, repeat concerns that the federal government appears unwilling to give Florida any flexibility under the Medicaid expansion and that it’s “all or nothing.” Garcia said the state wants to implement co-payments under an expansion so that patients would “have some skin in the game” when it comes to their health care and what they need and what they are willing to pay for.

“Without complete flexibility from the federal government,  it certainly ties your hands.”