TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Democrats in the Florida House are trying to persuade their Republican colleagues to move forward with a health insurance plan that draws down billions of dollars in federal cash and provides medical coverage for a million Floridians.
Democrats called on Republican leaders Wednesday to expand health coverage by accepting the federal government's offer of $50 billion over the next 10 years under the Affordable Care Act.
House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston said Democrats will not support the proposed budget in the House if Republicans don't include expanded health coverage in the spending plan.
Thurston calls the $50 billion from the federal government a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will save lives.
"Here's a program that's going to bring $50 billion into Florida over the next 10 years and we just say no to it without any consideration? That's going to save 5,000-plus lives per year and we're not going to do anything? We've got to do something."
House Republicans have rejected the idea of expanding Medicaid under President Obama's health care law and they're not showing support yet for a Senate plan that would accept the $50 billion in federal cash.
House Speaker Will Weatherford has said he expects the House to come up with a health care proposal soon.