Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida Missing the Boat With Medicaid Expansion

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TALLAHASSEE, FL – A coalition of 90 citizens' groups is continuing their fight to convince Florida lawmakers to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Health Care for Florida Now is asking citizens to ask their representatives to expand the program to provide coverage for those who find themselves in a "coverage gap."

According to Athena Smith Ford, advocacy director for Florida CHAIN, a coverage gap occurs when people make too much money to qualify for free coverage, but not enough to afford coverage on their own.

"The new health-care law offers Florida billions of federal dollars to extend health-care coverage to low-income Floridians," says Smith Ford.

Opponents of the expansion argue the state would ultimately have to pay for the expanded health care spending. If the state agreed to the expansion, the federal government would provide $15 million per day to provide coverage for one million people who are currently uninsured.

A report released last week by the Council of Economic Advisers estimates expanding Medicaid would create 63,000 new jobs, primarily in the health care field.

Smith Ford emphasized the expansion goes far beyond providing health coverage.

"It will generate billions of economic revenue here in Florida," says Smith Ford, "and will save taxpayers a lot of money that otherwise goes to treating people who are uninsured and show up in emergency rooms."

According to Health Care for Florida Now, the southern part of the state has the highest percentage of people without any health insurance coverage, with Miami-Dade and Hendry counties having the highest numbers.

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