Manchin’s Inflationary Market Omits Health Insurance Help for Low-Income People

Manchin’s Inflationary Market Omits Health Insurance Help for Low-Income People

  • Democrats in Congress are about to start voting this weekend on an inflation deal.
  • But the agreement does not extend health care coverage to people with incomes close to the poverty level.
  • About 800,000 Floridians will remain uninsured and the next shot at coverage may not be until 2024.

When Democrats in Congress announced last year that they were working on a massive spending bill to overhaul America’s social safety net, health care advocates in Florida were hopeful that there might finally be a way to get medical coverage for more more people.

Last week, however, their hopes were dashed. One of the many items that hit the cutting room floor in the Democrats’ compromise was the $740,000,000,000 Inflation Reduction Act, a provision to set aside Republican state legislators to expand Medicaid to nearly 800,000 Floridians.

The shortfall is a big blow to Florida’s uninsured, especially at a time when many are worried about a recession, and residents are already facing high costs at the grocery store and the gas pump, as well as rising rent bills , health care advocates say.

“It’s definitely a missed opportunity, especially if the whole thing is focused on inflation and the effects of inflation,” Scott Darius, executive director at the nonprofit advocacy group Florida Voices for Health, told Insider.

Florida is among 12 Republican-led states that reject Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Under the law, states pay 10% of the costs and the federal government picks up 90% of the tab.

Florida is unlikely to have a shot at Medicaid expansion until 2024 at the earliest. Florida health care advocates and Democrats have little faith that Republicans in the state legislature will change their stance against Medicaid expansion, so they hope to put the issue on the ballot in the 2024 election to get voters to weigh in directly.

“The ballot measure is the best chance we have to pass Medicaid expansion,” said Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Miami Gardens Democrat who sits on the state Senate’s health policy committee, Insider said.

“This should be a top priority for us, but the Republicans have shown us time and time again that they are not interested in what makes sense,” said Jones. “They are interested in what feeds their base.”

In 2021, President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package sought to sweeten the Medicaid deal by paying state costs for two years, but Florida still hasn’t. Republican Gov. Seal. DeSantis’ office told the Washington Post in March 2021 that he “remains opposed to Medicaid expansion in Florida.”

The governor’s office and several other GOP leaders in the state legislature did not respond to Insider’s questions about whether any circumstances, such as a recession, could change their position on Medicaid expansion.

Republicans are concerned about picking up more health care costs, citing fears that the federal government could someday claw back Medicaid payments.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, Republican of Palm Harbor, said he thinks Medicaid should only go toward the most vulnerable residents, rather than being based on income, he told the Orlando Sentinel in March 2021.

Under Obamacare, people making $13,590 or less for an individual or $27,750 for a family of four qualify to enroll in Medicaid. This raises objections from Republicans because it does not take into account disability or work status.

Reverend said. Vanessa Tinsley, executive director of Bridge to Hope, a Miami-based community organization that serves a food program, said the story about people on Medicaid was not true. Many of the clients she serves have jobs and college degrees.

“It’s not about hard work — we have that here — but they work hard at low-paying jobs,” she said, adding that while Florida has raised the minimum wage it hasn’t kept up with rising rents. One major medical issue can evaporate savings or a raise, she said.

Bernie Sanders Joe Manchin

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) walks past Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, on Capitol Hill on May 03, 2022 in Washington, DC.

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The US House version of Biden’s agenda cut the price tag by more than half

For more than a year, Democrats in Congress explored ways to circumvent GOP lawmakers in Medicaid-holding states. An estimated 4 million uninsured people nationwide would be able to get into Medicaid if all states expanded the program, according to a federal government report compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The $2 trillion US House Building Back Better Act passed in November 2021 came up with a solution to fill the Medicaid gap. It would have paid the full cost of private health insurance premiums for people with earnings close to the poverty level.

But the provision was among many removed to create the Inflation Reduction Act, although the bill kept other health care policies on drug pricing and private health insurance for higher-income people who wouldn’t qualify for Medicaid.

The bill could still change. Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia plans to introduce an amendment to help people without access to Medicaid. He will present the amendment during a “vote-a-rama,” a marathon session of amendment votes that could change the final draft of the legislation. The Senate is considering the inflationary market which will start on Saturday.

Florida Voices for Health is working with Southerners for Medicaid Expansion to push Congress this week to support Warnock’s amendment.

But conservative Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are wary of increasing the price of the legislation. ​​One estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the Medicaid idea of ​​the Build Back a Better Act could cost the federal government $125 billion.

Florida Sen Shevrin Jones debate on a bill, dubbed by opponents as the

Florida Sen. discusses Shevrin Jones bill, called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents, just before voting on the bill during a legislative session at the Florida State Capitol, Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in Tallahassee, Florida.

Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo

‘We may have to be creative’

Without a federal solution or an immediate ballot vote, the fate of Medicaid is in the hands of state lawmakers or voters.

Bridge to Hope’s Tinsley said she was “scared” of the recession since she already sees people living on the brink. She knows families whose parents can’t get married because otherwise their children wouldn’t be eligible for Medicaid, people who skip essential medications, or fathers with asthma who can’t afford health insurance and they are left to borrow their children’s respirators.

“The people in my food line were donors and volunteers,” Tinsley said. “Our resources are shrinking.”

If you can’t pay for health care, people’s circumstances are made worse, she said. And many people across Florida who have to cut back on spending can only do so by lowering their grocery bills, she said. Cheaper foods are often less healthy, leading to problems like diabetes and high blood pressure, which in turn increase people’s health care bills.

DeSantis is up for re-election in Florida and is expected to win since Florida Republicans have 220,000 people unregistered as Democrats in the state. The two Democrats running for the nomination in the August 23 primary to face him – Representative Charlie Crist and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried – support Medicaid expansion.

Jones faces his primary opponent on August 23. If re-elected, he plans to introduce a bill to expand Medicaid, he said. This round, however, he said he wants to try to see if there’s a way to reach a bipartisan deal like some other GOP-led states have done — especially after hospitals and health insurers rally behind of the effort.

“Maybe we have to be creative,” he said.

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