Sen. Aaron Bean offers alternative to Medicaid expansion

Bean's plan would be available for those Floridians who are 100 percent below the federal poverty level, not the 138 percent that would be eligible for Medicaid expansion. He said that those additional people would already be eligible for federal subsidies from private insurance companies as part of the Affordable Care Act, specifically from the health-insurance exchanges. Under the plan, those who enroll would have health savings accounts, which those citizens could then use to pay for their care.

Ranking committee member Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) questioned Bean about using Florida Health Choices to administer the new enrollees, vs. Florida Healthy Kids, which is what Negon's plan calls for. She said Healthy Kids had a proven track record of success, whereas that was not the case of Florida Health Choices.

Bean said the Health Choices network is one of the leading infrastructure's in the entire country, and putting nearly a million people into the Healthy Kids network would dilute its services.

"If you love Healthy Kids, you're going to love Health Choices!" he declared.

Like Negron's plan, Bean also said any participant must have some skin in the game and pay a fee. In this case, it's $20 a month or more than $200 a year.

"We would be leaving tens of billions of our federal tax dollars on the table," declared lobbyist Karen Woodall during public comment about Bean's proposal, which unlike Negron's, would completely blow off the federal funds being offered for Medicaid expansion. She also added that the groups she represents also had concerns about the viability of those in poverty being able to make those $20 monthly payments.

Democrat Eleanor Sobel complimented Bean for his creativity in crafting his proposal, but she said that his plan would provide health care coverage to too few people. She also said she was keenly aware that there may not be that much support for either proposal in the Florida House.

  • Aaron Bean

It's quite evident that the Florida Legislature will not accept the federal government's cost-sharing plan to add more Floridians to the Medicaid rolls. But what's the alternative?

Last month, Senator Joe Negron (R-Stuart) introduced a proposal that would take those federal Medicaid expansion dollars and enroll people in insurance through — but not in — the Florida Healthy Kids program, which currently provides coverage for children in the state.

On Tuesday, Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville) released an alternative to Negron's idea during a committee hearing on health care policy. His Health Choice Plus plan would provide insurance for the approximately 768,000 people who would be eligible for Medicaid expansion through the Florida Health Choices program.

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