Crist backs Medicaid expansion

Herald/Times Tallahassee BureauMarch 8, 2013 

TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Rick Scott's endorsement of a plan to expand Medicaid has many Republicans fuming, but not Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist.

The former governor says the state should press ahead with a plan to expand Medicaid roles to cover an additional 900,000-or-more poor Floridians.

"I never think it's harmful to explore other alternatives in addition, but we don't know what they are yet and how they're going to be handled and how compassionate they're going to be and if they're really going to serve people," Crist said. "But Medicaid works. We know that. It is the bird in the hand."

Crist has been all over the map when it comes to supporting President Barack Obama's signature health care law. In 2010, he said the bill should be repealed but later said it should only be modified.

He said he would have voted for the bill. And he said he would have voted against the bill.

But now that the law has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Crist says it is time to move on.

The money that would be coming to the state to expand Medicaid is essentially tax dollars that Florida residents have already sent to Washington, Crist said. "They ought to benefit from it is my view. In essence, they already paid their taxes to make Medicaid work and solvent, they should benefit from it."

On Thursday, the state revised its projections for the cost of expanding Medicaid, saying it would cost state taxpayers about $3 billion over 10 years. The federal government's share would be roughly $51 billion over the same time period.

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