Florida Legislative Session Ends In Disarray After Divisive Medicaid Battle
The lawmakers still need to pass a state budget but it's not clear when or how they will do that. News outlets look at the political and practical effects of the impasse.
Tampa Bay Times:
Gauging The Political Fallout From Tallahassee Gridlock: Will It Matter?
A rundown of what happened: The House adjourned three days early, which was historically unprecedented, to protest a budget impasse and reject Senate demands to discuss Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act. The Senate, united in rare bipartisan accord, stayed in town, passing bills to the empty chamber across the hall and accusing the House of violating the state Constitution with its early exit. Senate Democrats sued the House, asking the court Thursday to bring representatives back to finish their work. On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the House had violated the state Constitution — but, with the midnight deadline of the regular session approaching, it was too late to call anyone back to Tallahassee. Will any of it matter? "I think there will be very little political fallout," said Steve Vancore, a Democratic political consultant and pollster. (Klas and Mazzei, 5/3)
How The Florida Legislature Crashed And Burned
The gridlock is a function of the high stakes at play — billions of dollars in taxpayer funds, access to health insurance for 800,000 to 1 million Floridians and potential deep cuts to health-care providers. But it's also a symptom of the stark philosophical differences between the more conservative House and more moderate Senate, despite overwhelming Republican control in both chambers. (Rohrer, 5/2)
The Associated Press:
Court Order Brings Acrimonious Fla. Legislative Session To Close
A last-ditch effort to force the Florida Legislature back to work floundered on Friday after the state's highest court ruled that there would be no "beneficial result" to force the state House to reconvene. The Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the lawsuit filed by state Senate Democrats that asked the court to order the House to return to the Capitol. The House had abruptly adjourned Tuesday amid a hardening stalemate with the Senate over a new state budget and whether to expand Medicaid coverage to 800,000 Floridians. (5/2)
PolitiFact/Tampa Bay Times:
PolitiFact Florida: Running The Numbers On Medicaid Expansion
Even before the Florida House adjourned early, Speaker Steve Crisafulli laid blame for the session's budget impasse clearly on Medicaid expansion. ... the House believed the move would drag people into a costly system that didn't work. "Under federal law, other low-income Floridians have access to health care subsidies to buy private insurance for less than the average cost of a wireless phone bill," said Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island. "In fact, if we choose Obamacare expansion, 600,000 will lose eligibility for their subsidies, of which 257,000 would be forced into Medicaid. " ... Crisafulli's numbers are largely correct. Some people who get subsidies now would lose them and become eligible for Medicaid. But he ignores the benefits of Medicaid for the very poor, as well as other uninsured Floridians who would gain coverage. (Gillin, 5/3)