Florida Chamber endorses Medicaid expansion, kinda
Calling the Affordable Care Act a flawed law but ultimately one that is here to stay, the Florida Chamber of Commerce says the state should accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid as long as certain conditions are met.
The Chamber's board decided today to come up with prerequisites by which it would endorse Medicaid expansion after a series of meetings, including a Thursday panel on the topic. President and chief executive Mark Wilson outlined the group's endorsement, including a list of conditions it feels must be part of any agreement, in a memo sent to Chamber leaders, local Chambers of Commerce and other supporters.
"To lower healthcare costs, provide more Floridians access to quality healthcare, and make Florida more competitive, this morning the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to support 11 prerequisites as conditions for accepting federal dollars via the new Medicaid option," Wilson wrote. "These prerequisites will help control costs, slow the cost shift, and improve healthcare outcomes."
But Wilson made it clear that his memo isn't an outright endorsement. The Chamber wants all 11 conditions fulfilled in order to support Medicaid expansion, and the group would not without those things.
Earlier this week, the state's other high-profile business group, Associated Industries of Florida, also indicated support for expansion. Without using the word "Medicaid" or mentioning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, lobbyist Slater Bayliss said Florida should leverage available federal funds in order to reduce the number of uninsured and the amount of uncompensated care administered at hospitals.
This means both of the state's major business groups are in agreement with Gov. Rick Scott that Florida should expand Medicaid. On Monday, a Florida House committee recommended against expansion, citing concerns about cost and grown and already problematic program.
The Senate committee studying the issue meets Monday to discuss Medicaid expansion.
Among the 11 conditions the Florida Chamber said must come with expansion: ensuring Medicaid costs don't grow to become a greater slice of the state budget, evaluating the success of expansion, medical liability tort reform, creating more doctor residency positions at Florida hospitals, ending the drug repackaging loophole for workers compensation and looking for ways to move Medicaid patients onto private insurance policies.
Some of those "prerequisites", especially the ones about tort reform and drug repackaging, are Chamber priorities that are somewhat tangential to the expansion debate.