Florida Governor Rick Scott's plan to expand Medicaid coverage to cover about 1 million more poor people suffered a setback on Monday when the proposal failed to make it out of a key state legislative committee hearing.
On the eve of convening of the 2013 session, the House Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act rejected the expansion. A Senate counterpart committee postponed consideration of the issue, which is sure to be one of the biggest controversies of the session.
Scott, a Republican who bitterly fought President Barack Obama's national healthcare plan as a candidate and in his first two years as governor, stunned conservative supporters on Feb. 20 when he endorsed a three-year expansion of Medicaid, provided the federal government picks up the full cost for the first three years as promised.
"There's definitely a fight between the governor and the (state) legislature over this. The Republicans in the legislature are much more fiscally conservative than his actions have shown him to be," said Susan MacManus, a Tampa-based political scientist at the University of South Florida.
Republican legislative leaders have been openly hostile toward the plan, emphasizing that state lawmakers will make the final decision in drawing up a budget for next fiscal year.
"Openly hostile" doesn't begin to describe it. Florida GOP lawmakers believe Scott has betrayed them, and they'll expand Medicare over their dead bodies.
Or more correctly, the dead bodies of Florida's poor, who will continue to die from lack of affordable health insurance. This is a major feature of Republican rule at the state level. The GOP is A-OK with millions of uninsured Americans. They don't have a problem with that.
I'm betting the rest of Florida does, however.