Florida refuses 'Medicaid expansion' option, leaves 'uninsured' poor no healthy choices

Florida refuses 'Medicaid expansion' option, leaves 'uninsured' poor no healthy choices

Clewiston : FL : USA | Jan 27, 2014 at 6:52 AM PST
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Medicaid Expansion Would Negatively Impact Many

Florida and 25 other states do not have a health care option for the "poorest of the poor." Florida is one of those states that has opted out have the Medicaid expansion portion of the Affordable Care Act.

Not coincidentally, Republican governors lead those 26 states that have not accepted the 100 percent federally funded “Medicaid expansion cash.” In some cases such as in Florida, it could become a political problem.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott is running for re-election and is sure to face former Gov. Charlie Crist in the 2014 gubernatorial election in November.

The issue of accepting the free cash from the feds for Medicaid expansion is sure to become the central campaign issue. Scott said he favors the Medicaid expansion but cannot get the Republican-dominated Florida legislature to approve the program.

However, Democrats question his commitment to the program and how far he is willing to stick his neck out to accomplish bringing in the program. When Scott is asked about the program, he artfully dodges the question.

Meanwhile, the poor in Florida are suffering.

Just ask one of the poor, low-income "uninsured" who live in Hendry County, with one of the highest rates in Florida at a stunning 35 percent of the 38,000 residents, with the national average being 15.4 percent.

If you live in Hendry County, 28.7 percent of residents live below the poverty level, with the national average at 14.9 percent. By no coincidence, 28.5 percent of Hendry County residents rate their health at "fair or poor," with the national average at 16.9 percent.

Possibly the most stunning, a "war on women's health" of sorts, 49.1 percent of women in Hendry County have had a mammogram in the past two years. The national average is 74 percent.

Kaiser Health News reporter Phil Galewitz interviewed a health care navigator in Florida. "Most people in Hendry don’t qualify for anything," says Lynne Thorp, a health law navigator for Health Planning Council of Southwest Florida. "It’s horrible and really sad."

It is really "horrible and sad" for a resident of Hendry County, Kelly Cody, 48, a diabetic with an inoperable brain tumor who has gone without health insurance for nine years. Thorp broke the bad news to Cody that she wasn't eligible for health care coverage, reported Kaiser News.

Cody's $8,400 a year income is too small to qualify her for a federal subsidy and because she has the misfortune to reside in Florida, which does not offer the Medicaid expansion." Cody's late husband left her a small widow's military pension.

Subsidies are available to individuals with annual incomes between $11,490, the federal poverty level, and $45,960, which is four times the poverty threshold.

Cody falls into a coverage gap created in Florida and 24 other states, which declined to expand eligibility for Medicaid after the US Supreme Court made that feature of the law optional.

"I’m so frustrated that I fall through the cracks again," she says, describing how she sometimes injects insulin once a day, rather than twice, so she can afford to buy food.

In addition, not accepting the Medicaid expansion will cost the state of Florida $5 billion, according to a report from The Commonwealth Fund. The loss is even larger since Florida taxpayers are paying for the Medicaid expansion.

The state of Florida taxpayers are paying for the "Medicaid expansion" for other states, since they have chosen to opt out.

The voters in November may decide some elected officials may need to be opted out of office.


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Kaiser Health News

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The Commonwealth Fund


Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions, johnpresta@att.net.


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Florida refusal to opt-in 'Medicaid expansion' leave poor and uninsured no healthy choices
The Florida Legislature decided not to expand Medicaid, which would cover up to 1.2 million additional Floridians who can't afford health insurance. Credit: SEIU Healthcare
MrGrassroots is based in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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