Senate may consider health coverage for low-income Floridians

TALLAHASSEE — Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, left open the possibility Wednesday that his chamber will consider an expansion of health coverage for low-income Floridians.

Gardiner described as “intriguing” a proposal that would accept billions of dollars available under the federal Affordable Care Act and provide coverage through private insurers.

A coalition that includes business groups and hospitals is pushing the proposal, and Gardiner was asked about it at a meeting with reporters.

“Certainly the Senate has shown a willingness,” he replied. “We have had a couple of bills the last couple of years, and we are willing to have that discussion.”

Some elements of the proposal, which would need state and federal approval, are similar to a plan pushed by Senate Republican leaders in 2013. House leaders refused to approve the Senate plan or a Medicaid expansion, arguing in part that the state could not rely on promises of federal funding.

The new proposal, dubbed “A Healthy Florida Works,” would target 800,000 to 1 million people who otherwise would be part of a Medicaid expansion. It would be largely funded through billions of dollars in federal money available under the Affordable Care Act, but it would use a state-operated private insurance marketplace, where eligible people could choose among health plans.

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