Sunday, July 22, 2012

Medicaid Expansion in Florida

Attached a link to an editorial published in today's Miami Herald titled "Not so fast, Gov. Scott" focusing on Governor's Scott refusal to expand Medicaid. The editorial emphasizes that " for Floridians desperate to get basic healthcare the consequences could be dire. Train wreck, perfect storm, falling off the cliff — all of these phrases have been used to describe the impact of Mr. Scott’s decision unless the Legislature takes a more thoughtful approach. ....If Florida continues to ignore the “working poor” who can’t afford health insurance, these patients will have no recourse except to continue relying on public hospitals for unreimbursed care. But they will do so without the increased funding that the new law guarantees as compensation for the states, placing the burden on local taxpayers." The costs of uncompensated care will be passed down as a "hidden tax" to business that provide insurance for their employees, or to individual insurance policy holders. In 2008 this added an extra $1,017 to annual family health insurance premiums, and an additional $368 in individual premiums. The National Association of Public Hospitals estimates that about 4 million people who would have been eligible for Medicaid could go uninsured in states that have decided against expansion. In Florida, the move would expand coverage to an estimated one million more adults and children. Rejecting expansion will worsen the problem of uncompensated care in Florida, which already has the third highest percentage of uninsured patients in the country. But wait, it gets worse! Officials at the Jackson Health System are wary. They get $350 million in a special Medicaid appropriation from the Low Income Pool, far more than any other hospital in the state. They worry that if those funds are redistributed by Congress to cover Medicaid expansion nationwide, they could lose more than they gain in federal funds for new Medicaid patients. Without those funds Jackson Memorial Hospital and other hospitals in South Florida will be in dire financial straits. Lets remind ourselves why that is happening: Because the political leadership in this state is dominated by ideological "thinkers" who are refusing to acknowledge reality. Therefore, its of crucial importance that we act now using all available social networking tools at our disposal to educate and mobilize Floridians. Yours Bernd