Dear Gov. Scott:
As you are aware, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on a 5-4 ruling, with Chief Justice Roberts offering the majority opinion.
This ruling is a victory for Florida residents, who will have access to affordable, quality health insurance, and for small businesses, which will receive tax credits to reduce expenses, making them more competitive in the global economy.
Specifically, I am writing to you today with respect to the Supreme Court’s decision giving states the opportunity to opt out of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion provisions.
Under the ACA, Medicaid eligibility is expanded to include adults with annual incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty level. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs of covering those eligible for the expansion in 2014, 2015 and 2016; 95 percent in 2017; 94 percent in 2018; 93 percent in 2019; and 90 percent in 2020 and thereafter.
Rejecting these federal funds would be detrimental to the residents and businesses of Florida and I strongly urge you to ensure that the state of Florida implements the Medicaid expansion provisions in the ACA.
According to the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, Medicaid expansion can be expected to increase enrollment in Florida Medicaid by 1.2 million people over the next decade. All of the newly enrolled will be very low-income Floridians, 88 percent of whom are uninsured and the remainder having unaffordable or inadequate coverage.
Further, Medicaid expansion can be expected to increase total state spending for Medicaid by only 1.8 percent through 2023 and will result in a net savings to Florida taxpayers once reductions in costs are factored in that are associated with the delivery of uncompensated medical care to the formerly uninsured.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, states will have relatively small ncreases in state Medicaid spending but these increases will be offset by the new federal dollars that the states will receive. The new federal dollars going to the states that participate in the Medicaid expansion will reduce the number of uninsured, create jobs and slash uncompensated care costs.
Opting out of this expansion would severely burden Florida hospitals, particularly those like Jackson Memorial in Miami and other disproportionate share hospitals that have spiraling uncompensated costs.
Gov. Scott, by not opting out of the ACA Medicaid expansion, you will be able to preside over a historic expansion of access to health care that also reduces the burden on small businesses, Florida taxpayers and hospitals. In addition to being good fiscal policy, participating in the ACA Medicaid expansion is the humane and right thing to do.
Public officials like you and me have excellent health insurance and we should be working to ensure that all of our constituents have coverage as well. Health care reform is now known as “Obamacare” and the state of Florida now needs to show that it too cares. If we demand that every car owner must have automobile insurance, then we certainly should ensure that every person has health insurance. Everyone, including Republicans, gets sick, needs surgery and feels pain. Republicans too hurt, mourn and weep.
Access to affordable health care is a basic human right. It’s not a Republican right, a Democratic right or an Independent right. It is a basic right for all Americans.
With your leadership, by participating in the ACA Medicaid expansion, more than a million Floridians will gain access to quality health care. I strongly urge you to take advantage of this historic opportunity that will benefit the residents and businesses of Florida.
**Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent by U.S. Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, a Democrat representing the 17th District of Florida, to Gov. Rick Scott.
Photo: Gov. Rick Scott, right, Rep. Fredricka Wilson, left.