FL Senate president: ‘Medicaid expansion is not going to happen’

FL Senate president: ‘Medicaid expansion is not going to happen’

AP Photo/ Gary McCullough

By Giselle Balido

January 10, 2024

The announcement from the Senate’s Republican leader generated a swift response from Florida Democratic leaders, who want to increase healthcare coverage for low-income residents.

On day one of the 2024 Florida Legislative Session that began on Tuesday, Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo made it clear that she would not expand Medicaid, the public health insurance program for low-income people and those with disabilities.

“I want to be clear. I’m not going to spend the next 60 days re-litigating Medicaid expansion. I understand the arguments both for and against,” Passidomo said during the morning session. “Medicaid expansion is not going to happen. It is not a quick fix. It is not a panacea.”

Passidomo says her plan–the “Live Healthy” legislation–seeks to “expand our workforce, increase efficiencies and elevate quality.” It also includes adding a student loan reimbursement program, among other measures.

This announcement generated a swift response from Florida Democratic leaders, who on Monday rolled out a proposal to increase healthcare coverage for low-income people as part of their agenda for the session.

RELATED: Over 2.5 Million Floridians Lack Health Insurance and DeSantis Still Won’t Expand Medicaid

“Florida leads the nation in the number of citizens who have been disenrolled and now have no coverage because of Florida’s refusal to expand Medicaid,” said Rep. Dotie Joseph, of Miami-Dade, who is sponsoring House Bill 1529, a measure that would extend Medicaid eligibility to specified adults. 

‘At the kiddie table’

“Florida refuses to accept Medicaid expansion and the [federal] money that comes with it,” said Democratic Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a longtime advocate for Medicaid expansion.Forty other states have already joined, and Florida is left sitting at the kiddie table.” 

More than 2.5 million Floridians (12% of the population) lack health insurance, a rate that is well above the national average. Yet Florida is one of 10 states that has not expanded its Medicaid eligibility to cover more low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare.” 

RELATED: Florida GOP Lawmakers Refuse to Expand Medicaid. This Is How It Hurts Latinos.

This has left roughly 800,000 to 1.1 million Floridians without the health insurance they would otherwise be eligible for. Groups with the largest coverage gains would include non-Hispanic Black people, young adults, and women—particularly women of reproductive age.

In response to the first day’s agenda, Democratic Congresswoman. Frederica Wilson wrote a scathing response on X, formerly Twitter:

“It is shameful that on the opening day of the Florida Legislature, Republican leaders continue to reject Medicaid Expansion. Medicaid Expansion would provide healthcare to 1 million Floridians and save the state $200 million.”


  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.

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