News outlets reported that the governor, a Republican who is one of the strongest critics of the federal health law, endorses expanding the state's Medicaid rolls under that law.
Kaiser Health News: Waiver In Hand, Florida’s Rick Scott Backs Medicaid Expansion
At a hastily called press conference, Scott, a Republican, said he supported expanding Medicaid for three years — the amount of time the federal government picks up the whole cost. "Expanding access to Medicaid services for three years is a compassionate, common sense step forward. It is not the end of our work to improve health care," Scott said. “And, it is not a white flag of surrender to government-run health care" (Webber, 2/20).
Tampa Bay Times: Gov. Rick Scott's 'New Perspective': Expand Medicaid After All
Scott's endorsement means that as many as 1 million Floridians could gain access to health care, if the Republican-controlled Legislature agrees. That is not a certainty. "Gov. Scott has made his decision and I certainly respect his thoughts," House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said. "However, the Florida Legislature will make the ultimate decision. I am personally skeptical that this inflexible law will improve the quality of health care in our state and ensure our long-term financial stability" (Mitchell, 2/20).
The Associated Press: Florida To Expand Medicaid Under Health Overhaul
He's the seventh Republican governor so far to propose expanding the taxpayer-funded health insurance program. Scott said he would support the expansion as long as the federal government pays 100 percent of the increased costs, which is the deal offered to states by the Obama administration. After that, the federal government said it would pay 90 percent of the cost for the additional enrollees (Kennedy and Fineout, 2/20).
NPR's SHOTS blog: In Reversal, Florida Gov. Scott Agrees To Medicaid Expansion
Scott [had] vowed that his state wouldn't participate in the expansion of the program for low-income Floridians. "Florida will opt out of spending approximately $1.9 billion more taxpayer dollars required to implement a massive entitlement expansion of the Medicaid program," said the governor in a statement last July. ... The decision wasn't made in a vacuum. Scott was lobbied hard by Florida hospitals. They were concerned about losing money they now receive from the federal government to care for uninsured people (Rovner, 2/20).
And separately, today, another announcement on Medicaid and HMOs --
Health News Florida: Scott: 'A Great Win For FL' On Medicaid
Gov. Rick Scott announced today that Florida has won its request to enroll virtually all Medicaid patients into private managed-care plans. ... He said it will give patients with chronic illnesses better coordination of care and help taxpayers by lowering costs. The news that the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid had reached "agreement in principle" with Florida came in a letter from Cindy Mann, director of CMS' Medicaid office. The letter is addressed to Florida Medicaid Director Justin Senior, and is dated today (Gentry, 2/20).
Read CMS Director Cindy Mann's letter to Justin Senior.