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Congresswoman Castor announces creation of Medicaid expansion caucus


Published:   |   Updated: July 23, 2014 at 02:35 PM

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., won’t give up on the issue of Medicaid expansion.

Her office on Wednesday announced the creation of the “State Medicaid Expansion Caucus,” which includes her and more than 30 other Democratic members of Congress.

Castor’s congressional district includes parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida congresswoman, also is a member.

The idea of the working group is to “raise local, state and national awareness of the adverse economic and health impacts” of not expanding Medicaid, Castor said in a statement.

“Florida’s Republican governor and Legislature have turned a blind eye to hard-working Floridians,” she added.

Medicaid is the joint state-federal health care program for the poor.

Federal money is available under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid coverage to more people considered poor but making just enough to put them over the poverty line.

Florida is now one of 24 states not accepting federal funds for Medicaid expansion, Castor’s office said.

A majority in the Florida Senate was OK with taking the money to offer private-insurance vouchers. But Republican leadership in the Florida House of Representatives said they didn’t trust federal officials to follow through and stood firm two years in a row on not taking one cent.

The federal government agreed to pay 100 percent of the costs for 1.1 million newly insured Floridians and 90 percent for the subsequent three years. Florida would have received close to $51 billion over 10 years, according to reports.

Gov. Rick Scott, who supported it last year, has abandoned Medicaid expansion as a priority.

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