Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (D) criticized Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Wednesday for his failure to expand Medicaid in the Sunshine State, accusing the current governor of failing to “lift a finger” to persuade the GOP-controlled legislature to approve the expansion.
"Even [House Speaker] Will Weatherford said, 'The governor never called me to bring up that bill to expand Medicaid.' That would have been one thing. I would have called the Speaker...used the bully pulpit to talk about it every damned day,” Crist, who is challenging Scott in the 2014 gubernatorial race, told reporters on Wednesday, according to Creative Loafing Tampa. “Because otherwise sick people get sicker."
Crist insisted that he would have convinced Republican legislators to back Medicaid reform by just being “honest with them.”
"Most of these people have good hearts,” Crist said. "I think that if you're in the governor's chair, and you make an appeal to them and you point out to them how every single day if you don't get this Medicaid expansion done, people are getting sick, and they're getting sicker, and some will die. And just be honest with them that way. It's hard for them to say, 'No, I'm not going to do that.' Because you can get to their heart if you work."
In February, Crist also said that people die daily because of Scott’s inability to implement Medicaid reform.
"About a million of my fellow Floridians are not getting health care today, and I am told by friends at SIEU (sic) that means that six people in Florida die every day as a result of that. Every day," Crist said on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown."
Scott, who initially opposed the expansion, has remained relatively distant from the issue since he announced his support for the reform in February 2013.
In response to criticism challenging Scott’s dedication to Medicaid overhaul, the governor’s office told Fox 13 in a statement Wednesday that he remains “committed” to the proposal.
"Governor Scott's position has not changed. He is committed to ensuring that Floridians have greater access to high-quality health care and he will continue to urge the President and leaders in Washington to stop the devastating cuts to Medicare Advantage that could impact 1.3 million Florida seniors," Jackie Schutz, Scott’s press secretary, told Fox 13.
The Florida legislature’s rejection of Medicaid expansion has resulted in a loss of $5 billion in federal funding to insure more than 1 million low-income Floridians.