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A peek at CorcoranCare, the FL House's Rubio-flavored alternative to Obamacare's Medicaid expansion


As many as 150,000 low-income Floridians could get state subsidies to afford private insurance under a new plan Florida House Republicans plan to unveil Thursday as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under Obamacare.

Maximum future pricetag to state taxpayers: as much as $300 million, two sources indicated. However, a third source said that estimate is high and would likely be lower once the legislation is drafted.

Under the proposal, pushed by future House Speaker Richard Corcoran, childless adults and disabled people receiving Social Security Insurance could receive about $2,000 annually from the state as long as they pay a $25 monthly premium.

Recipients could then use the subsidy to shop for insurance plans posted on the state’s Florida Health Choices website, a legacy of former House Speaker Marco Rubio, now a Republican U.S. senator, who pushed for the internet portal to become a virtual marketplace. Corcoran was Rubio's chief of staff.

Corcoran declined to comment when the Herald/Times caught up with him earlier.

Corcoran, however, has described the plan to a few healthcare experts and politicians, who talked to The Miami Herald without attribution.

“This is about transforming healthcare,” Corcoran has told them, sources said.

The proposal is designed to appeal to conservatives on multiple levels:

•    It rejects Obamacare’s call to expand Medicaid for up to 1 million new low-income citizens;
•    It seeks to turn Medicaid-eligible recipients into customers for private health insurance, which generally provides better coverage than Medicaid, a public-private health plan
•    It's supposed to bolster the Florida Health Choices website to make it more of a one-stop shop with more providers for more people and companies.
•    By increasing the marketplace of Florida Health Choices, backers say, it's supposed to help improve the private and public health-insurance system and ultimately drive down costs.

House Speaker Will Weatherford and Corcoran, in line to succeed Weatherford in the future, say the problem with expanding Medicaid is that it continues a broken system of health insurance.

Not everyone will buy their arguments. There are bound to be objections.

Democrats in the House and Senate and some Republicans, including Republican Gov. Rick Scott, want to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, which could provide anywhere from $7 billion to $8 billion over three years in federal money to the state.

And the arguments about dynamically fixing Florida's insurance market and Medicaid have been made for years by conservatives, yet the Sunshine State has maintained a stubbornly high rate of people who have no insurance.

Meantime, Senate budget chief Joe Negron has a rival plan that would use federal money, whereas Corcoran’s would be a direct hit to the state treasury. With the plans so far apart, it's doubtful any major changes to Medicaid or new Medicaid-eligible populations will be made.

Also, were Corcoran's plan to be put into effect, it wouldn't instantly cover all of the estimated 150,000 potentially eligibile recipients. The state might only cover that many people at the end of a decade, at which point the program could cost as much as $300 million.

***Note: blog has been updated