Florida Showdown Over Medicaid Expansion, ACA Funding
The Florida state legislature has a week to reconcile two different versions of a Medicaid expansion bill that could either provide coverage to 1.1 million Floridians, or to only 115,000. The debate over the two versions of the bill is over the question of whether or not Florida should accept funding from the federal government that is tied to the Affordable Care Act.
The conservative-controlled state House passed a bill on Friday that would use $237 million in state funds to expand Medicaid to approximately 115,000 Floridians and would reject funding from the federal government. Republican Florida state Representatives argue that the rejection of federal funds is to prevent deficit spending by the Obama Administration. Many fear that with this bill many low-income families would still not be able to afford healthcare. Under this plan, families would have a $25 monthly premium. Comparatively, Florida House members on the state insurance plan only have to pay $8 a month.
On Monday, the state Senate amended the House bill to reinstate the acceptance of federal funding. Accepting federal funding for Medicaid has bipartisan support in the state Senate. The amended bill would accept $50 billion of federal funding to provide Medicaid to 1.1 million Floridians, and has support from both the Obama administration and Republican Governor Rick Scott. The Florida state Senate still has to vote to approve their amended bill.
If the amended bill passes in the Florida Senate, it is unlikely to have enough support to pass in the state House before the end of the 2012 - 2013 legislative session this week. This would mean that legislative efforts to expand Medicaid coverage in Florida would have to start over in the next legislative session.
Media Resources: Associated Press 4/29/2013, 4/26/2013; ThinkProgress 4/29/2013; WFSU 4/29/2013
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .