Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the federal government over expanding Medicaid under the president’s health-care law.
First, he was vehemently opposed to it, arguing that it was “inconsistent” with job growth. Then, he emotionally announced his support of a limited expansion, citing his mother’s recent passing. And then he was opposed again.
On Thursday, Scott took that opposition a step further, announcing a lawsuit over the federal government’s decision to allow a set of health-care funds known as the Low Income Pool to expire in light of its intersection with the president’s health-care law.
Federal officials have warned states for over a year that the program would be expiring in June, meaning Florida would lose roughly $1 billion of the LIP funding used by hospitals to serve patients who are uninsured or on Medicaid, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
“It is appalling that President Obama would cut off federal healthcare dollars to Florida in an effort to force our state further into Obamacare,” Scott said in a statement. “The President’s healthcare agency sent us a letter this week saying the ‘the future of LIP’ and ‘Medicaid expansion are linked.’”
Scott described that suggestion as federal overreach, calling it “outrageous.” But, before the outrage, Scott was actually for the expansion as long as the federal government paid for it in full. (And that was after he was against it).
Here’s a brief look at the history of his public thoughts on the subject:
“Florida will opt out” of Medicaid expansion (July 1, 2012)
In the summer of 2012, Scott made clear that his state would join several others in denying Medicaid expansion within its bounds:
“Florida will opt out of spending approximately $1.9 billion more taxpayer dollars required to implement a massive entitlement expansion of the Medicaid program,” he wrote in a statement in the summer of 2012, calling it “the right decision for our citizens.”
He also cast doubt on the federal government’s promise to cover the initial costs of the program.
“[E]ven though the federal government has promised to initially pay 100% of the increase in Medicaid payments for the first three years of ObamaCare, the burden increasingly shifts to Florida taxpayers in future years,” he noted.
“We will support” a limited Medicaid expansion (Feb. 20, 2013)
Nearly eight months later, Gov. Scott reversed course, announcing that he would support a three-year Medicaid expansion after all, “as long as the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100 percent of the cost.”
He noted at the time that “there are no perfect options,” but said the then-recent death of his mother put “everything in a new perspective.”
He vowed to spend the following three years analyzing the expansion’s impact on costs, quality and access to health care, calling the three-year expansion “a compassionate, common sense step forward.”
Watch that full statement here:
“It would be hard” to continue without more federal funds (April 6, 2015)
Scott reversed course earlier this month after negotiations over the LIP funding blew up in the first week of the month, the Associated Press reported on April 6:
Negotiations between state and federal health officials turned ugly last week, with the state sending a series of frenzied statements accusing the feds of walking away from the discussion while a key federal health official was on vacation. Federal health officials said they remain in contact with the state.
In a statement provided to AP, Scott said he couldn’t see how his state could take up Medicaid expansion in light of that funding fight.
“[G]iven that the federal government said they would not fund the federal LIP program to the level it is funded today, it would be hard to understand how the state could take on even more federal programs that CMS could scale back or walk away from,” he said.