Yesterday, the Florida House of Representatives rejected a Senate plan that would have allowed the uninsured to shop on a private exchange for coverage without enrolling for Medicaid until next year. Leaders in the House said the eventual expansion of Medicaid would cost billions to implement and that the federal government could not be counted on to do it’s part financially. The Senate will now hold a budgeting conference to make up the shortfall left behind by the absence of LIP (low income pool) funding that was pulled by the federal government in April.
Who were the Winners and Losers of the long contentious debate in Central Florida?
Senate President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando): While his efforts never really stood a chance in the Conservative house, you do have to give him some credit, he tried to rename, repackage, and spin his compromise every way he could to convince critics. He had the media on his side, as well as the majority of power players here in Orlando (he works for Orlando Health). His talking point “You’re right, that’s why we’re not expanding Medicaid…”. Opponents saw it a different way. He takes the “L” on this one.
The Hospitals and Chambers that supported expansion: Despite heavy lobbying efforts, direct mail, and even last minute astroturf efforts, they couldn’t make it happen. Hospitals will have to pull out the wallets over the next couple of years to cover cost until a solid solution is reached.
Local Activists and House Democrats: Rallies, Office Visits to lawmakers, Door to Door efforts in swing districts, Activists couldn’t turn up the heat enough to move the needle. House Democrats had a lousy session. Their Republican colleagues will be able to take back several legislative trophies to their constituents. Dems will once again be stuck claiming wins that only the R’s let them have.
Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford): Brodeur, who serves as the Chairman of the House Health & Human Services Committee, was on top of his game yesterday on the House Floor, delivering the most convincing anti-expansion message of the long afternoon and perhaps the session. His argument laid out in plain English, convincing cases of how implementation was failing in other states, and how a “Vote for this legislation would be a step towards Florida losing it’s sovereignty”, he added “Before you know it, all we’ll be coming up here for, is to pick out a couple of license plates, then we’ll be heading home”
Americans for Prosperity: Despite what you think of them, impossible not to put them on here. Despite “accountability mail” that angered Republicans in the state, they accomplished their goal. Medicaid expansion failed and it was in part due to their efforts to always be the available opposing voice. Too often, the anti-expansion voice in the debate was missing. State House members avoided the media after the early Sine Die. AFP stepped up and kept the dialog against expansion going.
Direct Mailers and Political Bloggers: Both sides spent a fortune on mail to get their message out. Direct Mail Providers should be pretty happy. The tennis match dialog between the House and the Senate favored rapid-fire bloggers. On some days, OPO would publish 4 or 5 posts on the communications between Crisafulli and Gardiner alone.