Florida lawmakers have known for months that Gov. Lawton Chiles would call them back to Tallahasses to reconsider his health care proposals, but they didn't know when. The waiting ended last week, when Chiles set a seven-day session to begin June 7.
"This special session should be about providing health care for working Floridians and their families," Chiles told reporters last Tuesday. "It should be about the peace of mind of knowing you have health care."
The session will continue the governor's push to win legislative approval for subsidized health coverage to any household in the state below two-and-a-half times the federal poverty level. Chiles' initiative, called "Florida Health Security," was defeated in the state's regular session that ended in March.
Chiles claims that his health plan will not require new taxes and can be financed with redirected federal and state revenues and with Medicaid savings generated by preventive care.
Opponents of the plan have questioned these assumptions. In particular, Republican lawmakers have argued that there is a good chance the federal government will reduce its health care contributors, which could force the state to impose a major tax increase if the Chiles plan is approved.