What could Florida do with $470 million extra dollars to spend?
That is the question Senate Democrats are asking now that they've calculated the state would have that money to spend if it accepted $51 billion federal Medicaid expansion dollars. They have answers, too, outlining this morning how they would spend the money.
A plan to use Medicaid expansion dollars to buy private insurance for poor Floridians was rejected by House Republicans last year. Two bills intended to reignite the issue during the 2014 session aren't going anywhere.
Lately, proponents of Medicaid expansion have tried to make a business case. They say reducing the number of uninsured Floridians creates jobs and helps small businesses save money they would otherwise have to spend insuring low-wage workers. But House Republicans still haven't budged, and Gov. Rick Scott is now avoiding the topic.
Senate Democrats said the $470 million is a "conservative estimate" based on various studies of the impact of Medicaid expansion by the state Agency for Health Care Administration, Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute, Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy and state budget analysts.