State reps get health care on the cheap - FOX 35 News Orlando

State reps get health care on the cheap

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TALLAHASSEE (FOX 13) -

State lawmakers rejected federal tax dollars to expand Medicaid, but continue to accept generous health benefits for themselves.

While Republican Governor Rick Scott, the Republican-controlled Florida Senate, and Democrats in both chambers pressed to expand Medicaid to cover around a million Floridians who cannot afford health care, the Florida House declined, arguing that it would drive up costs down the road.

At the same time, House members kept state taxpayer-funded benefits for health care that even state Senators don't receive -- because the Senate voted to pay more for their coverage.

"It's hard to believe. If I was not in the system and looking at it from the inside, I would not think it is true -- but it is true," said State Rep. Dwight Dudley (D, St. Petersburg). "I think it's certainly appropriate to reconsider the benefit package"

Florida House members pay $8.34 per month for individual coverage. State taxpayers contribute $541.46 per month.

If they elect family coverage, they pay $30 per month for family coverage; state taxpayers contribute $1,213.34 per month.

By comparison, Florida Senators pay $50 per month for individual coverage; state taxpayers contribute $499.80 per month, or $180 for family coverage with state taxpayers contributing $1,063.34 per month. That plan is in line with other career service employees in Florida.

House Speaker Will Weatherford was not available for an interview. His spokesman sent us a statement: "We are aware of the differences in what House members pay compared to other state employees for health insurance and are looking forward to addressing it next session."

Weatherford has previously said the Medicaid expansion would drive up state costs down the road.

Most State Representatives accept the benefits. Only 12 out of 120 do not.

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