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Weatherford opposes Medicaid expansion; his dad says his family was helped by it

In outlining his opposition to expanding Medicaid on Tuesday, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford told an emotional story about how his family relied on existing safety nets to provide health care for his 13-month-old brother.

“Peter lost his battle with cancer and my father found himself with a mountain of medical bills that he could never afford to pay,” Weatherford told lawmakers on the floor of the House of Representatives. “It was the safety net that picked my father up. It was the safety net that picked my family up.”

He left out one detail, the name of the safety net.

According to his father, it was Medicaid.

The federal-state health care program for the poor covered more than $100,000 in Peter’s medical costs, Weatherford’s father told the Herald/Times.

“There was no way I could pay that,” said Bill Weatherford, 62, when reached by phone in Odessa.

The House speaker, asked later, said Medicaid did not help cover his brother’s hospital bills and that he thinks his father was mistaken. He said he would look into the matter.

“I don’t know the specifics of what happened,” said Weatherford, who was 15 when his brother died in 1995. “I know my brother had cancer, I know we were uninsured, and I know they weren’t able to pay their bills.”

More here from Mike Van Sickler and Jodie Tillman