« Five legislators may testify in case of fired state trooper | Main | After years of no action, House committee moves bill to modify nuclear fee law »

After Republicans release plan, House Democrats back down from budget standoff

House Democrats won’t automatically oppose the $74.4 billion budget when it’s voted on Friday.

Although House Minority Leader Rep. Perry Thurston, is “not enthralled” with the health care plan House Republicans unveiled on Thursday, he said it was enough for him to end a plan by Democrats to vote against the spending plan because it doesn’t address Medicaid expansion.

On Tuesday, Thurston and the 43 other House Democrats agreed to oppose the budget because, unlike the Senate, there was no plan proposed by Republicans to expand coverage for an estimated 1 million uninsured Floridians.

But Thursday, the chair of the House’s select committee on the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, unveiled a new plan. It wouldn’t touch the federal money made available for the expansion. Dubbed Health Choices plus, the state would give each participant $2,000 each year to help them purchase coverage options, enrollees would  have to pay $25 a month in premiums, and adults without disabilities would be required to work at least 20 hours a week.

“Though personally, at first glance, I’m am not enthralled by the proposal,” Thurston said in a statement. “I recognize that it is at least a minimal attempt toward achieving a legislative compromise on the important topic of health coverage for Floridians.”

Thurston said he told caucus members that “I am relieving them of the caucus position we have taken on the state budget and they should vote as they deem appropriate.”

By no means, however, did this indicate Democrats would end up supporting the budget tomorrow, it’s just that they can vote as they deem fit.

“I am confident that House Democratic Caucus members stand with me in strong support -- and hope -- for health care coverage plan by the Legislature will rely upon federal resources to provide coverage for more than 1 million Floridians, save 5,000 lives a year, and provide good-paying, much-needed jobs throughout Florida.”