Florida house speaker Will Weatherford opposes Medicaid expansion, but, like almost every state official, is under intense pressure to offer an alternative proposal.
The “Florida Health Choices Plus” he announced this week would use state funds to expand coverage, tailor benefits to different patient groups, and give people the option of a health-spending account based upon the successful “Healthy Indiana” model.
An estimated 115,000 people would be newly-covered under Speaker Weatherford’s bill. His white paper describing the proposal offers strong arguments against Medicaid expansion and a detailed analysis of health spending in the newly-targeted groups. This should be a model for other states; starting with a detailed analysis of the problem before starting to throw money at it is what is needed to offer effective alternatives to Medicaid expansion. This proposal is a good example of how a state can assess the needs of its own citizens and target resources more efficiently than the federal government could.
“By utilizing the forces of the free market, we are providing low-income Floridians with quality options that are sustainable and will not be funded by additional federal dollars,” said Florida Health and Human Services chair Richard Corcoran. “This plan provides meaningful health care options to those who need it most without risking Florida’s financial future.”
“The Florida House has developed a plan that will fit the needs of Florida, not the requirements of Washington,” Speaker Weatherford said. “Our plan increases our commitment to a strong safety net and ensures Floridians are not on the hook for billions that we currently do not have.”
The proposal will cost the state $237 million annually and does not rely on federal dollars to operate.