Under its current reactionary Republican leadership, Florida will bow out of Medicaid. At the same time, North Carolina just agreed to opt in to Medicaid, adding coverage for 600,000 people.

The Miami Herald reports:

Florida is unlikely to expand Medicaid this year, as North Carolina and other Republican states have done recently, but lawmakers are pushing measures they say will expand healthcare for more children from low-income families.

About $76 million has been set aside in the House’s proposed budget to incentivize more pediatricians to treat children on Medicaid. And a bill progressing through the Legislature will expand the number of families eligible for subsidized child health insurance programs.

But the measures fall short of what healthcare advocates warn is needed as Florida next month begins to purge its Medicaid rolls, which swelled by 1.8 million people during the pandemic when additional federal money was given to states to keep people insured. At least 900,000 Floridians, including many children, covered by the program could lose medical coverage, according to state data.

Advocates would rather see Florida emulate North Carolina where Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday signed legislation expanding Medicaid coverage to an estimated 600,000 residents. The bill was passed by the Republican-controlled state Legislature, reversing years of opposition to expanding the federal program.

“Those North Carolina legislators really did the brave and correct and right thing,” said Holly Bullard, chief strategy and development officer at the nonpartisan nonprofit Florida Policy Institute. “There’s no reason why Florida can’t, too.”

Florida’s answer: Bring down costs

Florida lawmakers say they don’t want to increase dependence on benefit programs.

“The better way to go is to try to bring down the cost of care, private insurance and other insurance to increase access while still maintaining quality,” House Speaker Paul Renner said during a news conference on Friday when asked about Medicaid expansion.