After months of opposition, Florida Gov. Rick Scott today announced his support for expanding Medicaid to all low-income Florida families as envisioned by the federal health reform law.

florida-medicaid

Scott’s announcement makes him the seventh conservative Governor to support expanding the health care program to citizens with very low incomes (those earning below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or about $27,000 for a family of three.) Governor Scott joins Republican governors from Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota and Ohio who have previously announced support for expanding the program.

In making the announcement, Scott said the expansion must be reauthorized by the state after the first three years, when funds for the program from the federal government begin to slightly decline. For the first three years, Medicaid expansion is fully funded by money set aside for each state by the federal health reform law; in future years, Florida and other states will never be responsible for more than 10 percent of the cost.

It is estimated that more than 1 million Florida residents will qualify for Medicaid coverage under the expansion, lessening the burden on state taxpayers and local hospitals that now cover the cost of caring for the uninsured.

The decision to expand Medicaid came on the same day that federal officials approved Florida’s request to shift existing Medicaid recipients to private managed care health insurance plans.