Gov. Rick Scott (Pic via Facebook)

The Florida Center on Fiscal and Economic Policy (FCFEP), a progressive-leaning public policy group, released a report this week explaining that one of Florida’s biggest complaints against the health care reform law– the supposed devastating cost of expanding Medicaid to more people in the state– is “vastly inflated [and] lacking in merit.”

For months now, Florida officials, including Gov. Rick Scott, have publicly slammed the state’s Medicaid program and the costs it incurs.

During a press conference in December, where he announced his budget recommendations, Scott said that if the state did not adjust Medicaid spending, “it will bankrupt the state.”

“No state program has this much growth and costs this much,” he said. “This is absolutely not sustainable.”

For years, Medicaid’s costs to the state had been impugned by mostly-Republican lawmakers and was the impetus to begin the unpopular privatization of the program.

As portions of  2010′s health care reform legislation kick in, the state has expressed even more concern. One of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act requires that states extend Medicaid coverage to more residents that are low-income and without insurance. This mandate is among the many provisions that prompted the state to file a lawsuit against the federal government over the law. The U.S. Supreme Court will start hearing the challenge in just a few days.

Proponents of safety-net programs such as Medicaid say that the state is misleading the public on how the mandate– and the current Medicaid program– would affect the state’s finances.

FCFEP’s report this week claims that “the extent to which state projections of the cost of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act have been hyper-inflated is troubling, and they appear to have been specifically crafted to support a political position rather than provide a backdrop for planning purposes.”

According to the report, the state’s Medicaid enrollment will increase by about one-third, or 1.02 million, during the first decade of the expansion mandate. While that is a large increase, many of those enrollees will be younger people and people without children, which are significantly less costly than most current enrollees.

Furthermore, the group explains that the state has overestimated its share of paying for that expansion.

“In 2017-18, the state estimated that Florida’s share of Medicaid expansion-related costs will be $827.9 million,” the group explains. “Under reasonable assumptions, however, Florida’s actual share of the cost is expected to be only about a quarter of that amount ($222.2 million).”

Overall, the group reports, the state’s share of spending on Medicaid will increase by only 1.8 percent through 2023.

The federal government is expected to spend an additional $9.51 for “each dollar of Medicaid expansion-related state spending over the course of the 10-year period,” the FCFEP reports.

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