Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday became the latest Republican to green-light the expansion of Medicaid under the President Obama's health-care law, a move that follows in the footsteps of other state leaders who opposed the president's reforms and then accepted federal dollars to insure more low-income residents.
Mr. Scott is the seventh Republican governor to support an expansion of Medicaid to date, after notable "Obamacare" critics such as Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Ohio Gov. John Kasich also chose to extend the entitlement program to those earning 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
Republican governors in Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and North Dakota also have opted to expand Medicaid enrollment in accordance with Mr. Obama's signature first-term legislation.
In a late-afternoon news conference, Mr. Scott said despite his opposition to Mr. Obama's law, the results of the presidential election in November the Supreme Court's decision last June "made the president's health-care mandate the law of the land."
The Obama administration has pledged to pay for 100 percent of the expansion for three years, starting in 2014, before scaling back the federal contribution to 90 percent by 2020.
"While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the cost of new people in Medicaid, I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care," Mr. Scott said.
He warned that his expansion would sunset after three years and need to be re-authorized. He also said the federal government would have to hold up its end of the bargain under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The administration has noted that states can start or stop the expansion whenever they want, and that it would provide states flexibility in how payments are structured.
Mr. Scott agreed to the expansion hours after he secured a waiver from the Obama administration to set up a managed-care program that he expects will make health-care delivery more efficient and cut costs.
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