Republican Gov. Rick Scott, once a tepid supporter of Medicaid expansion, expressed strong doubts Monday about a plan to extend federally subsidized health insurance to nearly 800,000 poor Floridians.
Scott's change of heart comes amid stalled negotiations with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services over a $2.2 billion hospital funding program known as the Low Income Pool.
"We still have several weeks left for budget negotiations," Scott said in a statement Monday. "However, given that the federal government said they would not fund the federal (Low Income Pool) program to the level it is funded today, it would be hard to understand how the state could take on even more federal programs that CMS could scale back or walk away from."
Scott reiterated his three budget priorities: cutting more than $600 million in taxes, boosting spending on K-12 education to a record level, and holding the line on college tuition.
Responding to the statement, Senate President Andy Gardiner, whose chamber has led the push for Medicaid expansion, said the Senate "also shares the governor's commitment to tax relief and record funding for education."
"However, if our state is forced to make up the difference of $2.2 billion in hospital funding, every area of our budget will be impacted," Gardiner said.