Rick Scott supports Medicaid expansion
Permission to move Medicaid patients into private ...
Expanding the Medicaid program through national health care reform could boost economic activity in Florida by $8.9 billion in 2016 with more people being insured and job growth, according to an analysis by a national health-care consumer group.
The Washington, D.C.-based Families USA, which lobbies on behalf of consumers, said Wednesday that 1.8 million uninsured Floridians would qualify for Medicaid under a program expansion through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“This is truly a hallelujah moment for the working families throughout the state, and it augurs well for other Republican governors making the same decision for their states,” Ron Pollack, Families USA executive director, said in a statement late Wednesday after the govenor’s announcement.
Earlier in the day, the group released a report about state job growth under Medicaid expansion and how many people would gain coverage.
Going forward with expanding Medicaid is win for residents, business and the health-care industry, Pollack said.
“It will reduce the number of people who can’t afford health care; it will increase the number of jobs throughout the state; and it will strengthen the state’s economy,” he said.
The Families USA analysis says allowing the federal government to pick up the entire tab for the first three years from 2014 through 2016 will create 71,300 new jobs alone in 2016. The group contracted a company to develop the job estimate and looked at 2016 alone because it always takes time to ramp up new programs.
Many of the new jobs would be in the health-care industry, said Laura Goodhue, executive director of Florida CHAIN, a state consumer’s group.
“Health care is a big employer in the state, so this would strengthen hospitals and nursing homes,” Goodhue said.
Going forward with a program expansion also means the state won’t have to pay as much to Florida hospitals for providing uncompensated care to the uninsured, which the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates could save the state $1.3 billion over 10 years.
Another plus is that insured Floridians who have been paying a “hidden tax” through insurance premium hikes to help hospitals cover their costs of treating the uninsured could see their premium hikes decrease, according to Families USA.
“These are some of the significant benefits,” Pollack said. “The Florida Hospital Association estimates hospitals absorb $40 billion in the costs of providing charity care and that would be substantially diminished if the state opts into the Medicaid expansion.”
He added that the healthcare reform law does not allow undocumented immigrants to qualify for an expanded Medicaid program so hospitals would still face uncompensated care.
Other states that have announced they would expand Medicaid under Obamacre are Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio and Michigan.
The federal government will fund the entire cost to states for the first three years of the expansion from 2014 through 2016. After that, the federal government will pick up a reduced share of the cost but it never goes below 90 percent, he said.
Currently, the federal government pays 58 percent of Medicaid in states and the rest is picked up by each state.