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State delays new Medicaid expansion estimates

State analysts have postponed their meeting to discuss updated cost estimates if the state were to expand Medicaid. But that won't stop House and Senate committees studying the health care law from meeting Monday and possibly making a recommendation about what Florida should do.

"There are many other aspects to Medicaid expansion beyond the numbers that we were expecting from the revenue estimating conference," said Sen. Joe Negron, the Stuart Republican who chairs the Senate special committee.

That doesn't mean Medicaid expansion won't still be high on the discussion list. Negron points out that lawmakers have more to discuss than the cost of adding 900,000 unisured, low-income Floridians to the program. They also will be looking at how hospitals would be affected if the state decides to pass up on the federal dollars to expand Medicaid, since other cuts are coming down the pipeline no matter what.

The Legislature also might want to dig into how other states are tackling the issue. For example, lawmakers in Arkansas received federal approval to use their Medicaid expansion dollars to send people to health exchanges to shop for private insurance. In Indiana, the governor has asked the federal government to use the state's health plan for low-income residents instead of traditional Medicaid.

The meeting to discuss new Medicaid expansion cost estimates was rescheduled for Thursday. Ryan Duffy, spokesman for House Speaker Will Weatherford, said the committees have plenty of information even without updated numbers. State estimators last revised Medicaid expansion projections in December.

"They've spent the law few months gathering all the facts," Duffy said. "We do have numbers that we are comfortable with."