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Feds to Florida: Not too late for Medicaid expansion

Federal officials on Wednesday renewed calls for Florida lawmakers to accept an estimated $50 billion over the next 10 years to expand Medicaid, the joint state and federal health insurance program for the poor, to cover an additional one million Floridians who would otherwise remain uninsured even after Jan. 1 when healthcare reform begins in earnest.

Saying it’s not too late for Florida to accept federal funds available for Medicaid expansion, officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services held a conference call with reporters to reiterate the economic and social benefits of expanding the healthcare safety net for the state’s poorest residents.

Under the proposal, the federal government would agree to pay 100 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid in Florida, or an estimated $5 billion a year, from 2014 through 2016, and at least 90 percent thereafter.

Paul Dioguardi, director of intergovernmental and external affairs for HHS, said that Florida could expect to add about 120,000 private sector jobs to the economy and save the state an estimated $430 million in healthcare costs by accepting the funds.

"States can improve health, protect families from financial ruin, ensure doctors and hospitals get paid for the care they deliver, and boost the economy," he said. "We’re still hopeful that Florida will take advantage of this generous offer."

Is it likely to happen? Read more here.

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