Republican lawmakers lock public out of Medicaid meeting

Florida House Republicans just discussed the showdown over health care in a secret meeting in Tallahassee.

But they may not have realized a veteran Associated Press reporter was listening through the door.

AP reporter Gary Fineout held his ear to the closed door, because House leaders would not let the public see or hear what they're doing.

State law bans three or more lawmakers from discussing pending legislation behind closed doors. But the House Republicans walked right past the journalists, then locked out the media, in order to privately discuss the legislative battle over health care.

Representative John Wood chanted 'liberty' as he walked past reporters camped in the hallway.

"People have got to be able to talk to each other a little bit to understand where we are," said Ocala State Representative Dennis Baxley.

The House Republicans are fighting the Senate Republicans over health care. The Senate wants to accept federal dollars to subsidize coverage for the uninsured. These House Republicans do not.

"It's important for our members to ask questions and that's what they did," said House Speaker Steve Crisafulli. He said they did not discuss pending legislation.

But when Crisafulli was told that was overheard telling members to 'stand like a rock on the issue,' he justified his remarks by saying there is no legislation in the house on Medicaid expansion.

Crisafulli said his lawyer reviewed his talking points and that he followed the law in conducting the secret meeting.

This impasse over health care is holding up the state budget. This could trigger a state government shutdown this summer. In the meantime, Governor Scott just announced he plans to call a special session next month to try to keep the state running.

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