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Florida Medicaid Expansion Costs Revised After Outcry

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) won't be touting a sky-high prediction of the cost of expanding Medicaid to more poor people under President Barack Obama's health care reform law anymore.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Thursday that Scott's administration issued a new, much lower cost estimate Wednesday night. Instead of $25.8 billion over a decade, Scott's number crunchers now predict it will cost Florida $5 billion -- just one-fifth of the prior projection -- to expand Medicaid.

A Tuesday report from Health News Florida that Scott, a staunch opponent of Obamacare, had been repeating claims he knew to be wrong provoked a lot of negative attention. HuffPost, PolitiFact and numerous other news outlets picked up the story, which apparently prompted an about-face Wednesday night, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The new estimate is pretty close to an independent analysis by the Urban Institute and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation from November, which projected Florida would spend $5.4 billion on the Medicaid expansion between this year and 2022 with the federal government sending $66.1 billion to the state. That would be enough money to enroll 1.3 million Floridians into Medicaid, according to the report.

Here's the Orlando Sentinel's take:

Gov. Rick Scott's administration has reversed course and conceded the optional Medicaid expansion allowed under President Obama's health-care law would cost Florida taxpayers far less than he has been claiming.

Florida's agency managing the Medicaid program released a new bottom-dollar cost estimate for the Medicaid expansion Wednesday evening - a roughly $21 billion course-correction from recent weeks when it maintained the cost to Florida taxpayers could be $25.8 billion over the next decade.

Scott has repeatedly used the figure to argue Florida shouldn't expand the state-federal health-care program, including after a visit with Washington health-care officials on Monday.

Read the whole story at Orlando Sentinel