Tallahassee, Florida - Florida stands to generate more than 120,000 new jobs over the next ten years if it accepts federal funding to expand health care coverage.
That's according to a new study from University of Florida Economics Professor Alan Hodges.
He says Florida would receive $51 billion in federal cash under the Affordable Care Act over the next decade and that would allow the state to extend health insurance to a million uninsured Floridians.
Hodges concludes the federal money would generate 121,000 high-wage jobs in Florida, including more than 7,000 in Hillsborough County.
He says more than 90 percent of them would pay an average of about $57,000 a year.
"If Florida doesn't accept these federal funds it will be at a competitively disadvantage position absolutely. There will be fewer jobs here that will go somewhere else and Florida will absolutely be a loser in that game."
The Florida Legislature has rejected the idea of expanding Medicaid under President Obama's health care plan, but the Senate is proposing an alternative proposal. The "Healthy Florida" plan would use the $51 billion in federal cash to subsidize the cost of private health insurance for uninsured people.
Florida Hospital Association President and CEO Bruce Rueben applauds the Florida Senate and Gov. Rick Scott for supporting an expansion of health coverage to uninsured Floridians. Rueben says it's good for the economy and low-income Floridians.
"It's hard to make a case that accepting $51 billion in federal funds over 10 years to provide coverage for a million people here, which would give them access to primary care, would allow them to remain healthier, would be a bad thing for the state of Florida."
The Florida House has not developed a plan for extending health coverage, but Speaker Will Weatherford expects to offer a proposal soon.