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James Madison Institute: Florida Can't Afford Obamacare's Medicaid Expansion

As Florida's state representatives and senators continue to debate just how the Sunshine State will implement several provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, "Obamacare"), The James Madison Institute (JMI), a free-market think tank based in Tallahassee, today released its latest policy brief, "Floridas Best Medicaid Option Under the PPACA: Expand the Reforms, Not the Rolls."

The brief argues that the Sunshine State simply cannot afford to adopt Obamacare's optional Medicaid expansion to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Such an expansion would see 42.6 percent of Floridians enrolled in the state-federal welfare program, and the brief notes that Florida can just barely afford its current $21 billion program, let alone to expand it.

The brief concludes that current cost estimates of the expansion significantly underestimate the true cost, and reminds citizens and legislators that, whether it is state or federal taxes paying for the program, it all comes from the same taxpayers. The brief predicts expansion will result in "higher costs, higher federal deficits, increased taxes, slower economic growth, fewer jobs, and a further step on the road toward becoming an entitlement state."

From a policy standpoint, it is frustrating that the government spends so much on a program with so little return, but it's far more frustrating and stressful for those patients who desperately depend on Medicaid for care and cannot find it, writes Dr.Jason Fodeman, JMI adjunct scholar and author of the policy brief.

[I]t would seem odd for Florida, after leading a multistate challenge to the PPACA that resulted in the Supreme Court striking down the Medicaid mandate as unconstitutionally coercive, to enter into this unpredictably costly expansion of a program that is in need of reform, said Dr. J. Robert McClure, JMI president and CEO, in a press release.Florida leaders, time and again, are given the opportunity to set a nationwide example and act upon what is right when it comes to public policy. As we look further into the PPACA we find that it is neither affordable nor protects patients. Florida started out on the right foot pushing back on PPACA implementation. The more Obamacare is studied, the stronger the argument becomes that our state should not waver from its initial instincts."

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