Sen. Bill Nelson on Monday urged Florida Gov. Rick Scott to call a special legislative session in Tallahassee so up to one million state residents might still gain insurance under President Obama’s health care law.
Lawmakers left town Friday without expanding the Medicaid program as envisioned by the Affordable Care Act.
Mr. Scott, a Republican and staunch critic of “Obamacare,” stunned many observers this year when he urged the legislature to expand the federal-state entitlement program to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
“Now the legislature has done exactly what you said you wouldn’t; it had denied these Floridians access to coverage,” Mr. Nelson, Florida Democrat, said in a letter to the governor. “And now, only you have the chance to remedy the lawmakers’ failure to expand Medicaid to these needy Floridians.”
The federal government said it will pay for 100 percent of the expanded population in 2014-2016 before scaling back its contribution to 90 percent by 2020.
In announcing his decision, Mr. Scott said he “cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care” while the federal government picks up the tab.
But conservative lawmakers stymied his plans before time ran out this week on their regular legislative session.
Mr. Nelson said the legislature made a “callous decision” not to expand the program that serves the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Floridians will still seek high-cost care in emergency rooms, leaving taxpayers with the bill, he said.
The senator’s letter says one in five Floridians who are not covered by Medicare do not enjoy any type of health coverage. Therefore, he said, “the consequences of the state Legislature’s recent decision not to expand Medicaid loom large.”