Governor wants to talk health care

Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 09:30 AM.

"To me, Florida should control its own future," Weatherford said.

Scott made his fortune as a health care executive and once ran the nation's largest hospital chain. He made his first foray into politics by forming a group called Conservatives for Patients' Rights that ran TV ads criticizing health care reform before it was adopted by Congress.

Florida led the legal battle to stop the health care overhaul and shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law Scott said that the state would not implement the exchanges or expand its Medicaid program to enroll more people in the program.

Florida had the nation's third-highest rate of residents without health insurance during the past three years, according to Census data released last year.

But the state also has some of the most stringent eligibility requirements in the country for Medicaid.

A family of three with income of $11,000 a year makes too much and single residents are not covered. The Obama administration wants those requirements loosened so that an estimated 2 million uninsured Floridians could be covered by Medicaid. But experts don't believe all those eligible will participate. Feds will pick up 100 percent of the tab for the first three years and at least 90 percent after, along with extra funding for technology costs.

Florida's Medicaid program currently costs more than $21 billion a year, with the federal government picking up roughly half the tab. It covers nearly 3 million people — about half are children — and consumes about 30 percent of the state budget.

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