Florida governor backs limited Medicaid expansion

MIAMI Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:55pm EST

Florida Governor Rick Scott greets an attendee in the audience before the start of the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida October 22, 2012. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Florida Governor Rick Scott greets an attendee in the audience before the start of the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida October 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Skipper

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MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida Governor Rick Scott backed a limited expansion of healthcare coverage for the poor on Wednesday, joining six other Republican governors who have agreed to the move under President Barack Obama's landmark reform law.

Scott, a vocal critic of the law known as Obamacare who had balked at expanding Medicaid, only agreed to the expansion after the federal government granted Florida a conditional waiver to privatize Medicaid statewide.

Scott said in a statement that he would only agree to the expansion for three years, however, while the federal government picks up all the costs.

"We will support a three year expansion of our Medicaid program under the new healthcare law, as long as the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100 percent of the cost during this time. This legislation would sunset after three years and need to be reauthorized," the statement said.

Scott's conditional endorsement of an expanded Medicaid program in Florida, a move that officials have said could add at least 1 million people to the state's Medicaid rolls, must still be approved by the Florida Legislature.

(Reporting by Tom Brown; editing by Andrew Hay)

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