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Should Florida expand health coverage for a million uninsured citizens?

5:15 PM, Jan 25, 2013   |    comments
Paulette Wilson hopes state lawmakers expand Medicaid coverage so Floridians like her can get health insurance.
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TALLAHASSEE, Florida - State lawmakers are trying to decide if Florida should expand its Medicaid program as part of the federal health care law so an extra one million uninsured Floridians can get health coverage.

On Friday, a House committee studying that question met in Tallahassee and Paulette Wilson of Miami Gardens was there to tell her story.

She's a 61-year-old cosmetologist who has gone without health insurance for the past 10 years because it became too expensive. Wilson has pre-existing medical conditions that have forced her to rack up a lot of medical debt.

Wilson says going without health coverage, and watching her bills add up even as she works every day, have been hard on her.

Wilson worries that one bad illness or accident could ruin her financially, so she hopes lawmakers will expand Medicaid coverage.

"I'm here to try and see if I and other people can get some help with health care because if something happens to me, I happen to fall or get really sick, what's going to happen with everything that I am trying to achieve."

Under the Affordable Care Act, states can expand Medicaid coverage to people who earn 133 percent of the poverty level. The federal government says it will cover 100 percent of those extra costs for the first three years and 90 percent after that.

Gov. Rick Scott is skeptical the feds will come through with the money for an expansion of Medicaid and he's seeking more information from the Obama administration.

Scott is concerned the expansion would cost Florida taxpayers billions of dollars over the next decade.

Wilson hopes state leaders will allow the expansion because she says health care costs are out of control.

"It does boggle the mind. The mind, the heart, because you don't want to have all these bills on you."

First Coast News

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