In the midst of the ongoing COVID pandemic this week Florida Senate Democrats introduced a new push for Medicaid expansion here in Florida. The joint resolution presented by Sen. Annette Taddeo of Miami-Dade County and Sen. Lori Berman of Palm Beach County, calls for a statewide referendum on expanding eligibility to encompass people who are low income but not low income enough to qualify under current criteria.
As Senate Democratic leaders Gary Farmer and Perry Thurston highlighted at the press conference announcing this push, “if not now – in the midst of a pandemic that has sickened millions of Floridians and killed more than 28,000 — then when?”
In support of this push, Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz released the following statement:
“It is beyond time for us to expand Medicaid here in Florida. Our communities are struggling and expansion comes with over 50 million dollars in federal funding and will expand healthcare access to over 900,000 hard working Floridians. I applaud our Senate Democrats for taking the lead on this issue that is at the top of so many Floridians’ minds, especially as the Republicans focus on other frivolous legislation. Floridians should not have to choose between getting the healthcare they need and putting food on their table. They need healthcare now!”
In the midst of a pandemic that has sickened millions of Floridians, House and Senate Democrats announced Tuesday they want to expand Medicaid eligibility to provide health care coverage for hundreds of thousands who don’t currently qualify for it.
“The time is overdue and the time is now,” Farmer said, insisting Florida has never needed widespread, affordable health care more than it does now, with hundreds of thousands of people unemployed, struggling financially, trying to avoid infection, and uninsured since losing their jobs through no fault of their own.
The expansion, in one form of another – proposed but defeated every year since 2012, Thurston said – would draw down to Florida $50 billion of federal health care funds under the Affordable Care Act. Florida is one of only 17 states that have refused to participate, according to federal Medicaid data.
Taddeo said, “in the midst of a global pandemic, expanding Medicaid is clearly not a partisan issue. … Quality health care is a right, not a privilege.”
On Tuesday morning, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, or AHCA, reported that new enrollment in Medicaid from November to December exceeded official estimates by more than 50,000 people. Proponents of Medicaid expansion said the unforeseen surge in new enrollees is fresh evidence of how Floridians are suffering.