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PBS "Newshour" - Transcript - Medicaid Expansion


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And we turn to the battles playing out over the health reform law and particularly the expansion of the Medicaid program. Many Republican governors have long insisted they wouldn't participate.

But some of those more prominent opponents are shifting their position. Now that includes the governor of the state that first brought suit against Medicare.

MAN: Gov. Rick Scott.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Florida's Gov. Rick Scott has been one of the most vocal critics of President Obama's health care law.

GOV. RICK SCOTT, R- Fla.: This is going to be devastating for patients.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, yesterday, he reversed his decision to block the expansion of Medicaid.

RICK SCOTT: While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians that needed access to health care. We will support a three-year expansion of our Medicaid program under the new health care law, as long as the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100 percent of the cost during this time.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Scott, up for reelection next year, is the seventh GOP governor of late to accept the Medicaid expansion. Arizona's Jan Brewer, Ohio's John Kasich and Michigan's Rick Snyder have also accepted the expansion.

Scott's move is also significant because Florida has one of the nation's highest levels of uninsured residents. More than a million people could be added to the state's Medicaid rolls, potentially funneling an estimated $73 billion dollars in federal money to the state over a decade.

Medicaid, the joint federal and state program that provides health coverage for low-income families and those with disabilities, is key to the president's Affordable Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office projects 12 million Americans will gain coverage through Medicaid expansion. Starting in 2014, the federal government will pick up 100 percent of the cost. By 2017, the government's share starts to ramp down, so that by 2020, moving forward, Washington will pay 90 percent of the tab, with states picking up the other 10 percent.

But many Republican governors said this summer they wouldn't opt into the Medicaid expansion after the Supreme Court ruled that states could opt out and not be penalized. Texas Gov. Rick Perry was among them. His state leads the nation in the number of uninsured residents, some six million.

GOV. RICK PERRY, R- Texas: The idea that we're going to expand what we know is a failed economic program is -- but we're not going to do it in the state of Texas.


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