Medicaid Expansion is in Our Hands Now

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Scott Darius And Karen Clay of Florida Voices for Health

We’re Not Gonna Talk About It

“Medicaid expansion is not going to happen in Florida!” declared Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo on the opening day of the 2024 Florida Legislative session. Promoting her “Live Healthy” initiative and proposals to increase Florida’s healthcare workforce and improve healthcare delivery services, she emphasized that Medicaid expansion would NOT be included in these plans. Florida is one of only 10 states that has not already expanded Medicaid coverage to low-income childless adults as allowed under the Affordable Care Act, the federal healthcare law referred to as Obamacare. Florida House and Senate Democrats have supported the idea of an expansion and Rep. Joel Rudman, a Republican and physician from Navarre, has also come out in favor of expanding Medicaid. Expansion would increase Medicaid insurance coverage to the almost 500,000 people caught in the coverage gap, those people making too much money to receive coverage under the current Medicaid guidelines but making too little income to receive the subsidies to purchase private medical insurance available under the Affordable Care Act. But, as so often happens in our Republican-super-majority state legislature, the will of the people counts for very little in law-making and our legislators decline to accept the Federal funding that would cover approximately 90% of the costs of Medicaid expansion in Florida.

The People Have the Power

Now, Florida healthcare advocates are pushing a proposed state constitutional amendment to expand Medicaid eligibility to people in the coverage gap. On Wednesday, May 15, MidPoint heard about these efforts from Scott Darius, Founder and Executive Director of Florida Voices for Health(FVH), and Karen Clay, a long-time local disability rights and healthcare advocate who is now the Lead Story Banker for FVH. FVH hopes they can influence Florida legislators to act by presenting the stories of real people with real health problems who could be assisted by Medicaid expansion and other legislative proposals to improve access to healthcare and the healthcare delivery system. But FVH is not waiting for success in Tallahassee’s State House. They have joined a coalition of healthcare advocacy and policy groups to take the issue directly to the people with a citizen petition to place a referendum for a State Constitutional Amendment on the 2026 ballot to expand Medicaid in Florida.

The road to success with a petition drive is long for organizers in Florida, but in every state where Medicaid expansion has gotten on the ballot, it’s passed. Nearly a million petition signatures are needed to get it on the ballot in 2026, and then 60% of voters would still need to vote “Yes” to approve it. But Florida Voices for Health are taking the first steps and are looking for help. For more information on the petition effort, check them out at www.healthcareforfl.org.

To learn more, the show is available for listening on demand here, on the WMNF app and as a WMNF MidPoint podcast everywhere you get your podcasts.

Strengthening Florida’s Medicaid

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