The governor and majority leadership in the Florida House have persistently but unfairly attacked Medicaid—the health coverage safety net—for purportedly swallowing the state budget. These claims have in turn been used repeatedly to justify rejection of proposals to extend health coverage to more than 800,000 uninsured Florida adults in or near poverty, despite the fact that the portion of the cost funded by already-paid federal tax dollars will never fall below 90 percent.
The fact is, not only has the percentage of and growth in state general revenue (discretionary) funding dedicated to Florida's Medicaid program been continuously overstated by critics, the federal share of Medicaid costs paid has also been continuously increasing.
More specifically, under the current Medicaid program, increases in Florida's Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) will save Florida more than $2 billion state dollars over the 8-year period from 2011-12 through 2019-20. These savings far exceed the state's share of the cost of Medicaid expansion. In other words, the expansion has already been fully funded.
Furthermore, these increased FMAP rates are the result of Floridians' incomes slipping relative to those of the U.S. as a whole, as that comparison is the basis for the FMAP calculation. Uninsured, low-income adults—those affected most by the factors that have generated the state savings—are also the ones who continue to suffer as a result of the legislature's consistent refusal to reinvest those savings to provide coverage most will otherwise be unable to obtain.
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