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Health News Florida

Scott Compares Obama Administration To Sopranos

Gov. Rick Scott
Gov. Rick Scott
Gov. Rick Scott
Credit Associated Press

 Gov. Rick Scott is comparing the Obama administration to the Sopranos and accusing the president of not caring for low-income families, even as the Republican governor refuses to expand Medicaid insurance to more than 800,000 low-income families.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who is considering a run for president, is also weighing in, voicing support for a Senate compromise that would eventually take federal funds and give them to families to purchase private insurance.

Scott announced Thursday that he planned to sue the federal government, which he accuses of withholding federal hospital funds from the state only because he won't expand Medicaid. He says Florida is being held hostage by the government.

"They don't care about the low-income families because they're willing to walk away from a program. This is the Sopranos," Scott said during an interview with Fox News on Thursday night. "They're using bullying tactics to attack our state. It's wrong. It's outrageous."

The fight with the federal government is over more than $1 billion in funds that help hospitals who care for low-income patients. The federal government says using federal money to buy health insurance directly for patients is more efficient than paying hospitals for their care.

"It's difficult to explain why somebody would think that their political situation and their political interest is somehow more important than the livelihood and health of 800,000 people that they were elected to lead," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a briefing Thursday.

Scott expressed concern on Fox News for "the families that are relying on" the hospital funds.

But Scott and House Republicans aren't budging on Medicaid expansion. Scott declined to say on Friday when he plans to file the lawsuit.

The federal feud has heated up in recent weeks because it has put the Florida Legislature at a budget impasse with no compromise in sight just weeks before they are scheduled to adjourn on May 1.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who struck the deal for the hospital funds when his brother George W. Bush was president, is responsible for privatizing Florida's current Medicaid program.

"Expanding Medicaid without reforming it is not going to solve our problems over the long run," Bush told reporters in New Hampshire on Thursday. "We need to reform Medicaid. And there's a plan to do that in Florida that's pretty good."

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