Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum talked extensively during the primary about the possibility of doing a healthcare confederacy to offer Medicaid for all citizens. Now as the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Florida, Gillum has recently backed off that plan when speaking with Florida Daily.
On August 29, shortly after his primary victory, Gillum appeared on CNN with Chris Cuomo and was asked about how to implement “Medicaid for All” similar to what Vermont tried but was unable to do.
“For Florida to move in that direction, we would have to do it as a confederation of states,” Gillum told CNN. “We could not do it by ourselves solely here in the state of Florida because it would collapse the system. We would only attract the sickest of patients, and it wouldn’t work. But could you imagine if we could team up with states of New York, California, Florida, New York, Texas maybe even, Illinois, and other progressive thinking states and bargain on behalf of our citizens.”
Gillum’s opponent, former U.S. Rep Ron DeSantis, R-Fla.. pounced, trying to paint his the Democrat as a socialist.
“He said he wanted to do a single payer confederacy with California, New York, and Florida. So just imagine, everyone loses private insurance. They all go on this single payer system. You would have to jack up taxes. Who knows how high you would have to do it? And then we would send all of the money to New York and California, so not a good idea,” DeSantis said.
Six weeks later, Gillum refused to endorse the same idea when asked by Florida Daily to give more details on what that healthcare plan would look like.
“First, I think the priority is to expand Medicaid here in the state of Florida,” Gillum said. “We’ve got over 800,000, among the most medically needy in this state who don’t have access to healthcare. When we expand Medicaid, we are going to pull down $6 billion from the federal government that today is money that is being distributed to other states because we refuse to do that.”
Gillum has made healthcare a central theme in his campaign, calling it a right, something his Republican opponent has disagreed with. Gillum believes that expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, something Gov. Rick Scott has refused to do, would be the best way to get people covered. He does not believe it would raise costs.
“The beauty of expanding is that, not only will we help those who don’t have insurance, we will help those individuals and small business owners who are finding it difficult to afford health insurance for their employees. By helping to control costs, we will bring down those premiums that are right now increasing year over year over year and make it more accessible for everyday people,” Gillum said.
Florida Daily followed up by asking if a healthcare confederacy was not feasible at this time.
“It’s my opinion that the federal government needs to take the lead on expanding access to healthcare vis-a-vis Medicaid for All. But here in the state of Florida I am going to do everything I can to expand access to health insurance for the one in five people in Florida that don’t have access,” Gillum said.
DeSantis is using the healthcare issue to make a larger point about Gillum’s belief system.
“Andrew’s candidacy represents a challenge to Florida of being a low tax state,” DeSantis insisted.
So what is DeSantis’ plan? There is no policy at all on his website for health care. Asked during a primary debate whether he believed healthcare was a right, DeSantis answered, “I believe people should have the right to pursue the type of healthcare that they want.”
Democrats have protested at numerous DeSantis campaign stops, taking aim at him for not offering a full health careplan and accusing him of denying coverage to a segment of Florida’s population by voting against protecting pre-existing conditions.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.