[Press Statement] – Taxpayers Will Pay Big in 2014 to Fund Florida’s Spiteful Refusal to Extend Health Coverage

PRESS STATEMENT
March 4, 2014
Contact:  Leah Barber-Heinz / 850-294-6087 / [email protected]
                  Damien Filer / 850-212-1858 / [email protected]

Governor to Call for $500 Million in Tax Relief While Ignoring His Even Bigger, Wasteful Tax Hike: Taxpayers Will Pay Big in 2014 to Fund Florida’s Spiteful Refusal to Extend Health Coverage

In anticipation of Governor Scott’s “State of the State” speech today, Florida CHAIN, the statewide network of health care consumers and advocates, issued the following statement:

“Heading into the 2014 legislative session, Governor Rick Scott has consistently stated that his top priority is reducing the tax burden on Floridians. In his State of the State speech today, the Governor will reiterate his plan to roll back more than $500 million in taxes and fees.”

“At the same time, however, the Governor and Legislature are preparing to renew an even bigger, entirely unnecessary tax increase they imposed last session, requiring Florida taxpayers to redundantly pay with state dollars to block Floridians’ access to what they have already paid for with their federal taxes.”

“This tax hike comes by way of the Governor’s and Legislature’s continued refusal to extend real health coverage to uninsured poor and nearly poor Florida workers and parents that would be provided at no cost to the state. Specifically, Florida taxpayers must pay more than a half-billion dollars in 2014 alone that will be collected solelybecause Florida is preventing the flow of billions more in federal taxes back to the state to provide desperately needed health coverage.”

“The Governor has stated that he wants us to keep more of the money we earn.  Unfortunately, this spiteful tax increase takes more money from us and uses it for a redundant purpose. It also prevents Floridians who need coverage from benefitting from the taxes we’ve already paid.”

Background:

· Florida currently provides short-term coverage for some Floridians who are not currently eligible for Medicaid but who have catastrophic medical conditions through the Medically Needy (sometimes called Share of Cost) program. In the Medically Needy program, the federal government picks up only 58% of the tab.

· In addition, Medically Needy only kicks in during the portions of any month in which the individual has incurred medical costs that would exhaust all but a few hundred dollars of their income. Medically Needy is not continuous coverage that protects anyone or prevents anything.

· Legislative forecasters in 2014 projected that by switching the Medically Needy over to Medicaid expansion, Florida would save $430 million. And there are savings in other programs as well.

· If Florida extended coverage to these Floridians, not only would most be eligible for real, continuous coverage, but the federal government pays 100% of the cost until 2017 and never less than 90%.

· If Congress or the federal government at any point reduces its contribution from what is required by the Affordable Care Act, the state can withdraw at any time.   Florida has certainly reduced access to coverage in the past.