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First Coast Connect: Survey On Medicaid Expansion In Florida

A new survey from the Texas Medical Center’s Health Policy Institute shows where Florida voters stand on the issue of expanding Medicaid to the state's low-income residents.

Director for the Texas Medical Center Policy Institute, Dr. Tim Garson, spoke Thursday on First Coast Connect about the survey and what it could mean for Florida.

In 2015, Florida’s House of Representatives adamantly opposed the expansion while the state Senate was in favor of limited expansion.

Governor Rick Scott ultimately rejected the expansion.

It was an attempt by the Senate to draw down $18 billion federal dollars and give it to hundreds of thousands of Floridians to purchase private health insurance instead of putting them in the regular Medicaid program.

Thesurveyresults come from 5,000 respondents in five states: Florida, Texas, Ohio, California and New York. The data on each state comes from 1,000 respondents.

The poll finds 68 percent of Florida voters are in favor of Medicaid expansion and 71 percent would vote for a candidate in favor of Medicaid expansion.

One question on the survey asked if people have ever gone to the emergency room with non-emergency injuries or conditions. Half of those who replied said yes.

A Federal law states any individual who show up to an emergency room must receive care, which Garson believes has been a safety net for the uninsured.

“I think we have a nationwide problem of over use of the emergency room,” Garson said. “Some don’t have any other alternative but others abuse it. … We’ve got to do better as practitioners to educate the patients about what is an emergency and what isn’t.”

As of now, there are 19 states not expanding Medicaid, 26 states expanding Medicaid and six states are expanding Medicaid but using an alternative to traditional expansion, he said.