Florida Children's Health Advocates Ready to Fight for Medicaid Expansion, Again

Khalil Abdullah, Special to the Informer from New America Media | 7/2/2013, 3 p.m.
Courtesy of medicaid.gov

Woodall has a great appreciation for the protracted and often tortuously cumbersome task of passing state legislation. “It took 10 years to pass the breakfast program in Florida,” she said, referring to an initiative similar to Medicaid expansion in that most of the funding came from federal funds, with a smaller state funding match. “It takes three to five years to pass anything good.”

Nevertheless, the child health care advocacy community feels emboldened that Medicaid expansion will occur in a shorter timeframe. Merrell notes that the legislature came close to passing a law that would have lifted the state’s current five-year ban on lawfully residing immigrants from receiving Medicaid benefits. “These children are here lawfully and deserve to get coverage,” she exclaimed. “Even in the midst of the debate over immigration reform, people want to see these children covered.”

Observers are skeptical that a special session on Medicaid expansion will be called, but note that legislative committees begin evaluating and developing policy options and strategies well before the next session convenes in March 2014.

Woodall added that public pressure on legislators cannot be underestimated. “In order to expand Medicaid,” she said, “it’s going to take people going to their representatives’ offices and saying, ‘What are you doing? How could you not pass a law that’s going to benefit a million people?’”

This article is part of ongoing coverage by New America Media on the Affordable Care Act, supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies.