WASHINGTON (AP) - Both sides are saying it was a productive meeting after Florida Gov. Rick Scott sat down with the Obama administration's top health care official to talk coverage, costs and Medicaid reforms.
Scott met Tuesday with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss the federal health law and two pending requests from Florida for changes to its Medicaid program.
Sebelius encouraged Scott to partner with Washington in setting up a new health insurance market for Florida. Scott pressed for approval of Florida's Medicaid requests. And the two discussed Scott's concerns about the cost of expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income people under the new health care law.
The Republican governor softened his criticism of so-called Obamacare after the election, saying he is willing to work with federal officials.
“We had a great conversation with Sec. Sebelius today about how we can improve cost, quality and access in healthcare for Florida families. We need to know more about how the healthcare choices facing our state would affect families – many who are still struggling to get a job and make ends meet. I believe that Medicaid is an important healthcare safety net. Florida’s Medicaid program today provides health care to over 3.3 million Floridians and is approximately 30 percent of our state budget. The cost of Medicaid has been growing at three-and-one-half times the growth rate of the state’s general revenue, which crowds out our ability to invest in K-12 education, higher education and other priorities. Growing government is never free. Under the new healthcare law, Florida would nearly double the people in our Medicaid program over 10 years. AHCA estimates that this would result in a total cost to taxpayers of more than $63 billion over 10 years, including $26 billion in costs to Florida taxpayers. We also know that adding people to Medicaid will affect our state for generations to come because government growth is almost never reversed. The current fiscal cliff debate here in Washington is proof of that. I also asked Sec. Sebelius to approve our state’s Statewide Medicaid Managed Care and long term care proposals, which are currently awaiting HHS approval. We also discussed ideas for lowering health care costs, including tax incentives for individuals to buy insurance, price incentives for healthy behaviors, and flexibility to buy personalized coverage. Our ultimate goal is to lower the cost of healthcare in Florida so all families can access the level of care they desire.”