Federal health officials intrigued with Florida’s alternative Medicaid plan

Federal health officials intrigued with Florida’s alternative Medicaid plan

Medicaid expansion for one million low-income adults in Florida may technically be dead, after committees in both the House and Senate voted to kill it. And yet, chances for an alternative plan that would accomplish the same goals are looking up.

On Wednesday, federal health officials signaled interest in seeing Florida’s alternative plan, which is still just a gleam in the eye of a powerful state senator, as soon as the state has something in writing.

And a report on how much it would cost the state to offer coverage to private plans to the newly insured estimated that it would cost 3 percent to 4 percent less than for the current Medicaid population.

Even House Speaker Will Weatherford, a vocal opponent of Medicaid expansion, moderated his tone somewhat in speaking to reporters this week.

“We’re very pleased the Senate … has taken off the table the idea of expanding Medicaid. Now the conversation has shifted from that to how do we make sure more Floridians have access to insurance? That’s a very worthy conversation to have,” said Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

“They’re talking about private sector ideas, innovative ideas …that’s something the House is interested in talking about,” he said.

In an op-ed published Wednesday in the Tampa Bay Times, Weatherford wrote: “Although I personally oppose the expansion of Medicaid, I also recognize it’s not enough to simply say no. The state has an obligation to investigate and pursue viable alternatives that will be in the best interest of all Floridians. And that’s exactly what we’re doing in the Florida House.”