New Studies And Former Foes Agree: Obamacare Would Be Good For Florida

Nov 16, 2012

What? You mean Obamacare's Medicaid expansion WON'T blow a hole in our state budget after all?

Wow. That election was something, wasn't it?

Post-election, a bump for the health care law.

As Gov. Rick Scott -- formerly one of the country's most implacable foes of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- prepares to sit down with federal officials  to "get to yes" on implementing the law in Florida, a series of new studies says the Medicaid expansion that stuck in Scott's craw would expand Florida's economy, create thousands of jobs and return federal dollars for state money at a rate of 16-to-1.

Health News Florida's Carol Gentry reported this one out for our Tampa partners at WUSF. She spoke with Georgetown University health policy expert Joan Alker who said partisan state officials never did all the ACA math.

"Florida officials had some very inflated estimates of what this would cost the state," Alker said. The August revenue estimates were more realistic, she said, "but their math is still fuzzy because they haven't accounted for savings that will accrue" when most of those now uninsured will have public or private coverage.

Ideology may have colored the estimates. Until this week, Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature had said no to everything connected to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the opportunity to expand the Medicaid program to cover more of the working poor. The state turned down millions of dollars' worth of grants related to the ACA.

The bottom line, at least in the Georgetown study, is that states will get far more from the ACA than they pay for it. But that would depend on a continuing and reliable federal reimbursement by the federal government to the states for their new Medicaid expenses and some conservative critics are unwilling to bet on it.

From Tarren Bragdon, CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability in  Naples: "It's not fair to put patients and taxpayers at risk based on this empty promise from the federal government that they will supply this endless bucket of money for Medicaid expansion."

Apart from Bragdon, others are also refusing to cozy up to Obamacare in the warm afterglow of the Nov. 6 election. A notable backlash is coming from restaurants.