Premature Cheers for Medicaid Expansion in Florida

So a lot of folk who interpreted Rick Scott’s flip-flop on the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion as reflecting an inevitable acceptance of the “sweet deal” offered by the feds, which would now become quasi-universal as all those “pragmatic” Republican governors came around, may have celebrated prematurely. Via Digby, here’s a Reuters report from the Sunshine State:

Florida Governor Rick Scott’s plan to expand Medicaid coverage to cover about 1 million more poor people suffered a setback on Monday when the proposal failed to make it out of a key state legislative committee hearing.

On the eve of convening of the 2013 session, the House Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act rejected the expansion. A Senate counterpart committee postponed consideration of the issue, which is sure to be one of the biggest controversies of the session….

Republican legislative leaders have been openly hostile toward the plan, emphasizing that state lawmakers will make the final decision in drawing up a budget for next fiscal year.

Now obviously these GOP legislators could overcome their objections to the expansion, if not via its reasonableness or any particular investment in Rick Scott’s iffy re-election prospects, then because they will be heavily lobbied by the private health insurers who will get to cover all these new patients thanks to the deal Scott cut with HHS to allow the total privatization of Medicaid services in Florida.

But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. Scott’s re-election prospects might be enhanced as much or more by a futile effort to enact the expansion, as by a winning fight against his own Tea Party wing of the Florida GOP.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.