Published on February 27, 2014

Mr. Chisholm goes to Washington

Colleen Michele Jones, Reporter- Jacksonville Business Journal

In his first-ever trip to the White House, St. Vincent’s HealthCare CEO Moody Chisholm went there earlier this week to talk about Medicaid expansion.

Chisholm was part of a 40-person panel of business leaders and health care providers invited to discuss the issue with federal officials Feb. 24.

The matter is a vexing one for states like Florida, as well as Texas, North Carolina and others that have not accepted federal funding to extend eligibility for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — about $33,000 for a family of four.

The purpose of the meeting was to find ways the Obama administration can build more consensus and support among the private sector for adoption of the expansion.

The proposition was rejected by a Florida Senate panel last spring but the issue resurfaced with the official rollout of Obamacare on Jan. 1. By opting out of the expansion, the state stands to lose $51.3 billion in government funding to pay the cost of those newly eligible for Medicaid from 2014 to 2016.

Chisholm, who feels strongly that state leaders should accept the incentive, was asked to attend as a representative for Ascension Health, the Catholic health care system that is the parent organization of St. Vincent’s.

“It is St. Vincent’s mission to care for everyone in need and we pay special attention to the most vulnerable, such as the low-income folks who would be served by the [expansion],” said Chisholm. “But it is also morally the right thing to do to make sure everyone has the right to preventative care and not just emergency care. Financially and economically, it also just makes sense. ...if we say no to this capital infusion [of federal funding] we’re giving it away to other states.”

Approximately 1 million Floridians don’t earn enough to get subsided coverage through the national marketplace helah exchange but make too much to qualify for Medicaid as it now exists.

Chisholm holds out hope that the Florida Legislature could pick up the Medicaid expansion proposal, but he isn’t confident that could happen in the near future. More likely, Chisholm said, might be some kind of alternative compromise that Chisholm said national leaders indicated they would be willing to discuss with the state.

“It will require more of the population of Florida to support this engagement,” he said.