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Report: What Medicaid Expansion Rejection Means For Florida Taxpayers

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Photo: Mercy Health via Flickr Creative Commons
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A new study found that if Florida continues to turn down federal money to expand Medicaid, state taxpayers are going to see some big net losses.

A new study from the Commonwealth Fund in Washington, D.C. takes a look at what it means for Florida to not just turn down health care money—but federal funding in general.

If you take into account all the taxes Floridians pay to the federal government every year—turning down any federal money is a big loss for the state—and really, pretty strange.

Every year, states and cities pay for lobbyists to go to Congress and fight for federal dollars—such as highway money and defense contracts—things designed to inject revenue into their economies.

Sherry Glied, Dean of The Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, who authored the study for the Commonwealth Fund, looked at what it means for states to reject federal Medicaid funds.

"Taxpayers in the states are already paying the cost of the program whether they expand or not."--Sherry Glied, Wagner School of Public Service, NYU.

She said Florida taxpayers will see a net loss of about $5 billion in revenue for the state.

“Taxpayers in the states are already paying the cost of the program whether they expand or not,” Glied said. “The question is, are you going to get all this money that goes into your health system. And if it does, it will create jobs. It will create jobs in hospital laundry. It will create jobs among janitors who clean doctor’s offices. There will be new jobs in Florida.”

But state lawmakers, like state Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, have said Medicaid expansion is not a good deal for Florida.

“The way the federal government has written the rules on that money, currently, I think, will be a bad deal for us to accept it,” he said. “If the proposal were different, I might reconsider that.”

The expansion would be fully paid for by the federal government until a few years from now, when Florida will have to contribute ten percent of the Medicaid expansion costs, which is about $1 billion in 2022.

Glied said that’s not nearly as much money as the state already spends to lure private businesses—which is an increasingly popular strategy the state has used to attract revenue in the past few years.

Glied’s study found Florida spends almost $5 billion in payments to private businesses annually in the hopes they will create jobs in the state. That’s about four times the amount of money the state would eventually have to spend on Medicaid expansion.