July 03--Two studies from Washington healthcare researchers project that Gov. Rick Scott's decision not to expand Medicaid as provided by the healthcare reform law could mean Florida losing billions of dollars in federal funding -- money that could have been used to bring health insurance to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Floridians.
A 2010 state-by-state study by the Urban Institute and financed by the Kaiser Family Foundation projected that the Affordable Care Act would provide $20 billion in federal funds to Florida between 2014 and 2019 to expand Medicaid coverage to 951,622 new enrollees, including 683,477 that had been previously uninsured.
Over those same five years, Florida would need to come up with $1.2 billion to fund the expanded coverage, according to the 2010 study.
An updated analysis from the Urban Institute last week made no funding estimates but, using different assumptions, estimated that as many as 1.8 million uninsured Floridians -- 45 percent of the state's uninsured total of 3.94 million -- could have been moved to Medicaid under healthcare reform.
The new analysis was based on Census data of uninsured people below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, the cut-off point for Medicaid coverage under the reform act.
On Friday night, the governor estimated on Fox News that expanding Medicaid will cost the state about $1.9 billion a year, Associated Press reported, but Scott didn't say how he had arrived at that figure.
For several years, Florida lawmakers have been concerned about rising Medicaid costs and have instituted reforms under which private insurers will take over much of the program under the theory they can do a better job of controlling costs.
(c)2012 The Miami Herald
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