SARASOTA - State lawmakers failed to pass a bill aimed at providing health care coverage for more low income Floridians. But they did manage to keep their own taxpayer-funded health care premiums rather low.
"I think its unfair for the rest of us," said Jenny Whidden about the price state lawmakers are paying for health insurance coverage.
According to information from the State's Department of Management Services, Florida House of Representatives members pay just $8.34 a month for individual coverage and $30 for their family. A price that is shocking many people.
"I thinks it's criminal. I think it's a crime that these lawmakers can have coverage for $8 a month and yet they are willing to turn down this money from the federal government to expand Medicaid. That would cover health care for thousands and thousands of Floridians who don't have it right now," said Sarasota Resident Lisa Daily.
We reached out to all of the local representatives. Of the five, the four who were against Medicaid expansion were unavailable for comment. Representative Rouson, the only local representative supporting the measure, did speak with us. "The House refused to vote on Obamacare health care proposal, and the Negron care proposal," said Rouson.
The Negron proposal was the senate's compromise to the Medicaid expansion. It would have have allowed for increased coverage for those who fall below the poverty line.
"How can you ask the taxpayers to spend $600 a month per State Representative, while we only contribute $8.34 and yet we wont allow the federal government to cover their health care insurance," said Rep. Rouson.
So, we took those concerns to an insurance agent to get a comparison of what the average person is paying for health care. "With a family of four, husband and wife, two kids 8 and 10 with a $2,500 deductible, you're looking at about $680 a month, " said Daniel Capierseho of Sarasota Health and Financial Services.
That figure is 20 times the amount House of Representative members are paying for their families. And, those numbers are expected to go up. "We usually see between 5 and 10 percent rate increase every year so its gradually going up," said Capierseho.
The house did vote on their own version of a health care expansion program. But that would have only given coverage for about 100,000 people, and did not include insuring single adults. That bill died in the Senate.