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Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

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Republican senator and House Democrat team up for Medicaid expansion effort


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It’s not coincidental that what’s been called a “Hail Mary” legislative effort should hold a press conference on Ash Wednesday.

Sen. Rene Garcia, a Hialeah Republican, has filed a bill (SB 710) to try again this year to join the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.

Florida is one of 25 states declining to participate.

Medicaid is the joint state-federal health care program for the poor, but the ACA has a provision to extend coverage to those still considered poor but making just enough to put them over the poverty line.

The League of Women Voters of Florida hosted Wednesday’s presser with him, business owners, doctors and Rep. Amanda Murphy, a New Port Richey Democrat, who supports the bill in the House.

With House leadership not interested in taking federal money and Gov. Rick Scott focussed on tax cuts this session, why is Garcia even bothering?

“You see my forehead,” he said, pointing to the smudge of ashes there. “It’s all about hope. I never give up hope.”

He added that a broader group of people across the political spectrum now support expansion, including progressives and conservative chambers of commerce.

The Senate passed its own version of Medicaid expansion last year.

Garcia admitted, however, he’s not heard from any House Republicans who like his bill.

“I just believe passionately enough in this that we need to move forward,” he said.

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