House Speaker Will Weatherford said that the high-level attention given to House Republican freshmen does not involve using strong-arm tactics, as he and his deputies try to hold the Republican caucus position to reject federal dollars on Medicaid reform.
"There's not been a single member of the freshman class that has come to me and told me they did not want to vote for the our plan,'' he told reporters Wednesday. "I have not had to twist a single arm. We've simply supplied them with the facts and I think the facts support that the House plan helps the most vulnerable of our state and also creates sustainability for the state of Florida."
Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, disagrees that Weatherford and Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, would have the votes if they weren't demanding that Republican vote in a block. He said he has talked to enough Republicans to persuade him they have the votes to support the Negron plan, that would accepte the federal funds.
"If he were to let his members vote, the votes are there,'' Waldman said of Weatherford.
Weatherford is not backing down from his argument that taking federal money to insure the poor in Florida is a bad bet for the state. He said he read today that U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said that one of the first things to go when they balance the budget in Washington "is going to be this idea that they fund this match at 90 or 100 percent. I agree with Congressman Ryan on that."
So does the House leave any room for compromise?
"We never say that our way is the only way,'' he said. "If a compromise is taking $7 billion of federal funds that is unsustainable to give health care to everybody without creating the right criteria, without taking the targeted approach that the House has taken, we don't think that's compromise."