Gov. Rick Scott is continuing his attack against the federal government, comparing it to the Sopranos and accusing the Obama administration of not caring for low-income families.
Scott announced plans to sue the federal government for withholding federal hospital funds from the state because he won't expand Medicaid, alleging Florida is being held hostage. Yet Scott is against a plan in the Florida Senate that would provide health insurance for more than 800,000 low-income individuals.
During a Fox News interview Thursday, Scott said, "This is the Sopranos. They're using bullying tactics to attack our state. It's wrong. It's outrageous."
The fight is over more than $1 billion in funds that help hospitals who care for low-income patients. The federal government has warned for more than one year that the program was ending and suggests that using federal money to buy health insurance directly for patients is more efficient than paying hospitals for their care.
In making his case, Scott is accusing the federal government of a crime. He claims the Obama administration is trying to illegally coerce him into expanding Medicaid, by linking funding for LIP to Florida's refusal to expand Medicaid. The federal government funds experimental or pilot programs (that serve low-income individuals) at its discretion. For years, the federal government has been giving us LIP funding, to help hospitals treat low-income patients who are underinsured or uninsured.
After Florida refused billions of federal dollars to expand Medicaid, the federal administration decided to cut LIP funding,
And in writing, the administration tied LIP to the Medicaid expansion, so Scott is suing on grounds of coercion.
"He is suing the federal government because they would like to provide 6-billion dollars a year for Floridians for health services and he's suing so that he can get a billion dollars a year," said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D) Tampa. "What a wasteful and frivolous thing to do here."
Senate republicans and democrats say blocking the Medicaid expansion (or some form of it) will deprive 800,000 people of health care. But Scott and house republicans say if Florida accepts the money, it would have to pay increasing costs in future years, to maintain the expansion.