Politics
8:00 am
Tue March 5, 2013

State CFO Objects Scott's Proposal to Expand Medicaid

Credit Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / freedigitalphotos.netChief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said Florida cannot financially handle Gov. Rick Scott's Feb. 20 proposal to expand Medicaid. 'Floridians deserve better than a plan to double down on a system awash in fraud, that raises costs on everyone, burdens small businesses and yanks the rug out from under doctors,' he stated in his weekly newsletter posted online Friday.Edit | Remove

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater hasn’t been rushing around Florida declaring his displeasure with Gov. Rick Scott's abrupt new stance supporting the expansion of Medicaid under the federal health care law.

But all three members of the state Cabinet are now on record as having voiced their objection to Scott’s Feb. 20 proposal to accept for three-years the expanded Medicaid program as outlined in the Affordable Care Act.

“Floridians deserve better than a plan to double down on a system awash in fraud, that raises costs on everyone, burdens small businesses and yanks the rug out from under doctors,” Atwater stated in his weekly newsletter posted online Friday.

The state would revisit the issue after three years under Scott’s proposal, which must get approval from the Republican-dominated Legislature.

Stating the program could put “Florida taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in new costs in the out years,” Atwater agreed with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam that there will be little chance to downsize an expanded Medicaid system in the future.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government says it would fully pay for three years the cost to expand the program to residents up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. 

State analysts were expected to revise cost estimates on expanding Medicaid on Friday, but put the matter off until 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The Cabinet and Scott are set to meet at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Capitol.

A joint meeting of the House and Senate select committees on the law is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Monday. The House select committee is then scheduled to meet at 11 a.m., followed by a meeting of the Senate select committee at 1 p.m.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, who helped lead a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Affordable Care Act, on Tuesday declared “I don't think our state should surrender even more control over health care to the federal government."

Putnam verbally and on social media announced his objections within hours of Scott’s decision.

Putnam’s comments have only fueled rumors that he may be interested in running for the Governor’s Mansion in 2014, a buzz heightened when a supporter created a crude "Draft Adam Putnam for Governor" website.

Atwater has continued to say his focus is on being re-elected CFO in 2014.

“I might disagree on some of the things that our governor has chosen,” Atwater said during an interview on WNDB in Daytona Beach on Tuesday. “But I really am in this CFO job to really, really do the right thing. It has taken time. And it’s not going to happen in the first four years. I’m hoping I get a second four years. And that is where my focus is at.”

Jim Turner reports for the News Service of Florida.