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Florida Chamber supports "alternative plan" for Medicaid expansion

Another influential business group wants to see Florida lawmakers accept federal dollars to help extend healthcare coverage to uninsured Floridians.

In a report issued Tuesday, the the Florida Chamber of Chamber said it opposes "the traditional expansion of Medicaid."

But the group would be willing to support a plan to use the federal funds that "embraces private solutions with flexible steps to eliminate the $1.4 billion cost shift on Florida families and caps Florida's Medicaid budget at 32 percent."

The report also expressed the Chamber's support for legislation that would expand the use of telemedicine and allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to "practice to their fullest potential."

The Republican-dominated Florida House has blocked efforts to expand Medicaid for the past two years. But new pressures have been mounting.

Last month, a coalition of business groups including the powerful Associated Industries of Florida, released a Florida-specific plan for accepting the federal dollars. Billed as a "free-market solution," it would require beneficiaries to make mandatory premium payments and search for employment.

"Florida has an opportunity to show the nation that health care can be delivered based on a free market framework and on conservative principles," Associated Industries of Florida President Tom Feeny said in a statement.

When asked to weigh in on the Chamber's proposal, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said "the only thing that is different about the Chamber plan than AIF's plan is the list of additional policy issues the Chamber would like to see addressed."

"Many of the policies they are advocating for are policies that the House has passed, or worked on over the years," he said.