CONTACT: MICHELLE DeMARCO
SENATE DEMOCRATS WELCOME REPUBLICAN ENDORSEMENT OF EXPANSION OF HEALTHCARE
TALLAHASSEE – Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale), along with Senators Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood), Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) and Darren Soto (D-Orlando) on Monday welcomed the endorsement by Republican lawmakers of expanding Medicaid in Florida – after they rejected it.
“Although Republicans voted against what they called “traditional Medicaid expansion” they turned around and endorsed a program that still relies on the same federal dollars and still extends affordable health care to 1 million Floridians,” said Senator Smith. “Whatever name they opt to give the program, the bottom line is that money allocated by the federal government for Medicaid expansion will be the mechanism. In the Senate, the remaining question is no longer ‘if,’ but ‘who.’”
Senator Gibson, who serves on the Senate Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – the committee appointed by Senate President Don Gaetz which embraced expanding healthcare on Monday, agreed. “A rose, by any other name, is still a rose,” she said. “This move is long overdue and one the House would be wise to emulate.”
As the final details over how to proceed with implementing the Medicaid program remain under discussion, Senator Sobel, Vice Chair of the Select Committee, urged that any oversight board of the program be subject to the state’s public records laws, and that all meetings be noticed and open to fully protect consumers.
“In 1965, as he signed the national Medicare and Medicaid bill into law, President Lyndon Johnson quoted Deuteronomy, who wrote: ‘Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to the poor..’” she said, adding: “Remember, that thine hand must be opened in the sunshine.”