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Health News Florida

Business Leaders Push for Medicaid Expansion

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Rolla Al-Abbasi
/
WUSF

Businesses and healthcare industry leaders on Tuesday publicly urged Florida lawmakers to use billions of dollars in federal funds to provide health coverage for about 1 million low-income adults in the state. 

Convincing state lawmakers to reconsider Medicaid expansion is a top priority for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, said its president and CEO Bob Rohrlack at a news conference organized by the League of Women Voters of Florida. Rohrlack said the federal money would have a huge impact on the economy. 

"What this translates to is over 121,000 new jobs over a 10-year period for the state of Florida," Rohrlack said. "Here in Tampa [and] Hillsborough County, it's over 7,000 jobs just for our city and county."

During the last legislative session, the Florida Senate passed a version of Medicaid expansion that would have used $51 billion in federal funds over a decade to expand health care coverage to low-income adults.  That plan was rejected by the Florida House. 

Tampa General Hospital CEO Jim Burkhart said he's willing to hear alternatives to Medicaid expansion. 

"From the perspective of the health care industry, we are saying to the legislators, sit down with us, let's find a solution and let's take the money," Burkhart said.

The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion for the first three years. Its share tapers to 90 percent over a decade.

Florida lawmakers will be in Tallahassee for committee meetings next week, but Medicaid expansion is not on the agenda. 

 --Health News Florida is part of WUSF Public Media. Contact Lottie Watts at 813-974-8705 (desk) or e-mail at lottiewatts@wusf.org. For more health news, visit HealthNewsFlorida.org.