Former Florida governor Jeb Bush recently huddled with Republican state legislators and urged them to oppose an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program. His position put him at odds with incumbent Republican governor Rick Scott, who announced on Wednesday that he’d expand Florida’s enrollment.
According to several Florida GOP insiders, Bush met with a group of lawmakers on February 14 at the state capitol. The focus of his Tallahassee visit — his first in two years — was education reform. But during a closed-door question-and-answer session in a Republican office, he was asked about Medicaid.
“Everyone was listening to what he had to say, because at the time, no one was entirely sure about how Scott was going to proceed,” says a source familiar with Bush’s remarks. “He said that rejecting the Obamacare expansion was good policy, and told them to come up with some conservative alternatives.”
“He was there to talk about education, but when he was asked about Medicaid, it was clear where he stood,” says a second source. “He’s a policy guy, and much of what he said was about that. He thinks Republicans should counter” an expansion.
Sources close to Bush don’t expect the popular former governor to rally against Scott in the coming weeks, since he usually avoids becoming involved in partisan debates and intra-party battles. But within the upper echelons of Florida Republican politics, his opposition to Medicaid expansion is well known, and has been privately cited by Scott’s critics, who hope to kill the governor’s proposal in the legislature.
Relations between Bush and Scott are reportedly cordial but chilly. When Bush was at the state capitol, he did not meet with Scott. According to the Associated Press, “Bush’s staff offered six different times for a possible meeting,” but Scott’s senior aides told Bush’s advisers that the governor was unavailable.
Bush, the brother of former president George W. Bush and a potential 2016 presidential candidate, is currently abroad and was unavailable to comment.