Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senate Likely to Replace 'Bean Plan C'; It Probably Means Lawmakers Won't Pass Expansion of Health Care

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senate Likely to Replace 'Bean Plan C'; It Probably Means Lawmakers Won't Pass Expansion of Health Care

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Dixon

TALLAHASSEE | In the most concrete indication lawmakers may fail to pass health care expansion this year, the Senate will likely consider replacing an expansion plan authored by Sen. Aaron Bean with an amendment that includes no alternative.

The Fernandina Beach Republican had filed legislation (SB 1844) that would have spent $15 million next year to sprout an expansion plan that would cover an estimated 60,000 of Florida's poorest residents.

The plan, dubbed "Bean Plan C," would have been administered by Florida Health Choices, a health care exchange Bean helped create in 2008 as a member of the House. It has yet to sell a policy.

That plan had stalled but was put on the Senate agenda after Bean agreed to remove the expansion language.

"We just didn't have the votes, and it seems like [expansion] ... might be next year," Bean said.

He wants to secure the funding for Florida Health Choices in hopes that it can administer any future health care expansion.

"I think it can be a vehicle [for expansion] next year," he said of Florida Health Choices.

Going back to December, lawmakers have been working to implement the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, but with a week left in the legislative session they have yet to decide if they will expand health care coverage to Florida's lowest-income populations.

Under Obamacare, Florida would be eligible for $51 billion over the next decade to expand Medicaid. The first three years would be paid for by the federal government, while state taxpayers would pay an estimated $3.5 billion over 10 years.

The House and Senate agreed to not expand the government-run plan but can't agree to an alternative.

The GOP-dominated chambers are so far apart that legislative leaders had started hinting that lawmakers will not pass any health care expansion this year. …

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