The Phoenix Flyer

Medicaid expansion won’t go before voters next year

By: - August 9, 2019 6:01 pm

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Medicaid expansion will not be on the November 2020 ballot in Florida.

Florida Decides Healthcare, the group collecting voter signatures to put the Medicaid expansion before voters next year, announced Friday that it is dropping its current effort and will refocus on getting the measure on the 2022 ballot. Politico Florida first reported the development.

Dan Newman, a spokesman for the group, said the state constitutional amendment drive was hindered by the 2019 Legislature, which created more regulatory obstacles for citizen initiatives.

“The voter-led campaign to expand Medicaid isn’t going anywhere. We were hustling to put health care directly on the 2020 ballot because it is clear that Floridians overwhelmingly support Medicaid expansion, but state legislative changes at the end of the session just made that a hill too steep to climb,” Newman said in a written statement.

“The Legislature’s actions created confusion and uncertainty in the funding community, and that was certainly the Legislature’s intent. Lots of politicians did everything in their power this year to keep Floridians from voting on this,” Newman said.

The new law prohibits citizen initiatives from paying petition gathers based on the number of petitions they collect, a requirement that has made the process more costly. The law also prohibits out-of-state signature-gathering companies from participating in Florida petition drives and requires petitions to be turned into local supervisors of elections within 30 days.

As of Friday, the Medicaid expansion amendment had only collected 79,708 validated voter signatures, according to the state Division of Elections. All the initiatives seeking a place on the 2020 ballot must collect at least 766,200 validated signatures by Feb. 1.

Florida Decides Healthcare launched its citizen initiative after the continual refusal of the Republican-led Legislature to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. Florida remains one of 14 states that has not expanded Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for the poor and disabled.

More than 800,000 Floridians could benefit from a Medicaid expansion, according to Florida Decides Healthcare.

Newman, the spokesman for the group, said the issue is popular with voters based on polling done by the organization and the group will redouble its efforts for a 2022 ballot campaign.

“Floridians have demonstrated time and time again they are committed to passing Medicaid expansion,” Newman said. “More than 70 percent of Floridians want this, and we’re not going anywhere until we deliver health care for more than 800,000 hardworking Floridians.”

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Lloyd Dunkelberger
Lloyd Dunkelberger

Lloyd Dunkelberger has been covering Florida government for over three decades. He’s reported and edited in Tallahassee for the New York Times Regional Newspapers group, Florida Politics, and the News Service of Florida. He grew up in Jacksonville and Palm Beach County and got his journalism degree at the University of Florida.