The justification that certain Florida politicians continue to recite in blocking the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act absorbed a major blow recently -- one that undermines their primary argument.
State House Speaker Will Weatherford and other legislators argue expansion will increase state Medicaid costs in the future by billions. But an analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute came to the opposite conclusion -- not based on rigid political dogma but comprehensive economic studies.
Those state-level budget analyses of Medicaid expansion would boost state budgets by generating enough state savings and additional revenue to exceed higher Medicaid costs.
And that's by a whopping margin in Florida -- by $22.6 billion through 2022, according to the report. The number of forecast jobs is also impressive, 172,000 in the 24 states which expanded Medicaid.
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ACA a generous benefit
During the first three years of Medicaid expansion, ACA is very generous -- paying out 100 percent of the annual costs. Then, Florida would be required to pay 10 percent, about $5.4 billion through 2022 -- but that will secure an expected $66.1 billion in federal funding.
The foundation-institute report, released in August, also refuted the other House point.
The Council of Economic Advisers concluded that Medicaid expansion would benefit Florida's economy with 172,000 jobs through 2015. Without expansion, the state's hospitals are forecast to lose $22.6 billion through 2022, an unsustainable loss.
Gov. Rick Scott pledged anew his support for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act in an interview with the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau. Ever since first indicating favor with accepting federal money, he's expended no political capital to push acceptance by the Florida House.
Weatherford remains staunchly opposed to all things Obamacare, regardless of the fact Medicaid expansion would provide health insurance for up to 1 million poor Floridians, spur job growth in the health care industry and provide other business-friendly benefits.
Even major conservative business organizations -- the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida -- see the economic value in Medicaid expansion.
It's time we all came to the same conclusion.