Both the Senate President and House Speaker oppose expanding Medicaid in Florida

Medicaid expansion sign
Sign at a Medicaid expansion rally. By Janelle Irwin / WMNF News (Oct. 2013).

©2024 The News Service of Florida

House Speaker Paul Renner on Wednesday reiterated support for Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s efforts to increase access to health care — and her opposition to expanding eligibility for the Medicaid program.

Renner, R-Palm Coast, said the “Live Healthy” plan, which is a top priority of Passidomo during this year’s legislative session, is “something better” than options that would expand government involvement in health care.

“I do believe, and I’m telling you bluntly, we will have in this country, in the near-term, single-payer health care, and we will have that if and only if we fail to offer something better,” Renner said during an appearance at the Florida Chamber of Commerce “Legislative Fly-in” at the Augustus B. Turnbull III Florida State Conference Center in Tallahassee.

“We want good for everybody,” Renner added. “And the way to do that is to continue to leave space for innovation. … And the only way you do that is through the private sector.”

The $900 million Live Healthy proposal includes two bills (SB 7016 and SB 7018) sponsored by Sen. Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, and Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, that are intended to increase the number of doctors, while encouraging technological innovation.

The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee is scheduled to take up the bills Thursday.

Among other things, the plan seeks to shift patients away from emergency rooms, expand medical residency programs and offset student-loan debts.

“We graduate a lot of students from medical schools but there’s not enough residency,” Passidomo said during the Florida Chamber event. “So, what do they do? They leave, and when they leave, they don’t come back.”

During remarks Tuesday to open the legislative session, Passidomo said Medicaid expansion — long sought by Democrats — is “not going to happen.”

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