U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), in speaking on the Senate floor this afternoon, blasted the state of Florida for its refusal to expand Medicaid coverage to nearly 800,000 poor and disabled individuals in his state.
Nelson’s off-the-cuff remarks about Florida’s refusal to expand the program came in response to a speech Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) had just concluded about improving rural health care and Alabama’s “shortsighted decision” not to expand its Medicaid program.
“I also want to thank the senator for his comments about how shortsighted it is that the government, as he stated, of his state of Alabama and certainly the government of my state, the state of Florida, refuses to expand Medicaid and has so for almost seven years,” Nelson said.
“There’s almost $5 billion a year that is sitting on the shelf,” Nelson said, “that is Florida taxpayer money that is going elsewhere,” “In my state of Florida, that is 800,000 people, almost a million people, poor people, disabled folks that would be getting health care,” Nelson continued. “What do they do? They end up going to the emergency room.” “And of course, when treated at the emergency room – the most expensive place at the most expensive time – lo and behold it’s ‘uncompensated care’ and the hospital can’t eat all of that uncompensated care,” Nelson said. “What happens? All of the rest of us pay by increases in our premiums.”