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Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014

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White House: Failure to expand Medicaid costs Florida 64,000 jobs

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A White House report says failure to expand Florida’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act will cost the state nearly 64,000 jobs in the 2014-16 period, leave 850,000 people uninsured who would otherwise have coverage and neasrly 160,000 facing financial problems because of inability to pay medical bills.

The report, from the White House Council of Economic Advisers, titled “Missed Opportunities,” said the economic effects will result from the loss of federal spending that would have come along with expansion of the Medicaid program, some $15 billion in Florida over the three-year period.

Florida is one of 24 states that have refused the option provided under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, to expand Medicaid with full federal funding.

Gov. Rick Scott, though he’s a staunch opponent of the ACA, initially said in 2013 he favored expanding the program, but took little or no action to press the state Legislature to do so. The Legislature, with former House Speaker Will Weatherford of Lutz as the main opponent, refused to in both the past two legislative sessions.

Scott’s likely Democratic opponent in the 2014 election, former Gov. Charlie Crist, who favors the expansion and the ACA, leaped on the report Wednesday.

“Today we see yet another example of how empty Rick Scott’s jobs rhetoric is – he refused to lift a finger to create more than 63,000 new jobs in Florida by expanding healthcare to 848,000 of our fellow residents,” said an email statement from Crist campaign spokesman Brendan Gilfillan.

“What’s worse is this would not have cost Florida taxpayers a dime, unlike the millions in misguided tax breaks he’s given to big corporations for jobs that may or may not be created.”

Asked for a response to the report Wednesday, Scott’s office referred questions to his campaign. A campaign spokesman responded by criticizing Crist and praising the 2011 Florida Medicaid revamp reform that moved recipients onto managed care programs.

Asked in a Tampa Tribune editorial board interview last week whether he still favors Medicaid expansion, Scott said, “I haven’t changed my position,” then went on to repeat his criticisms of the Affordable Care Act.

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