VENICE — Diane Dimperio, chair of the League of Women Voters of Florida Health Care Team, told the Venice City Council expanding the state’s Medicaid program would insure 11,000 more people in the county and save its hospitals millions of dollars in indigent care.
Florida could save $200 million by shifting eligible people from the part of the program in which there’s a 40% state match to the expanded program, to which it would only contribute 10%, she said.
There would also be an infusion of more than $4 billion in federal money, she said, with an economic impact of another billion or more.
Her data fell on sympathetic ears but failed to persuade enough Council members the city should join the campaign to urge the Legislature to expand Medicaid.
A motion to direct staff to draft a resolution to that effect only got three votes, from Mayor Ron Feinsod and Council members Mitzie Fiedler and Brian Kelly.
Fiedler made the motion, saying expansion made financial sense and was the right thing to do. Her colleagues who voted against it didn’t disagree; they just didn’t want to spend the city’s “political capital” on an issue they didn’t see as one in the city’s “wheelhouse,” as Vice Mayor Rich Cautero put it.
The major health issue to the city’s residents, he said, is getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
In addition, the state is likely facing a shortfall in Medicaid funding of more than $1 billion when the Legislature convenes in March.
He’d be happy to consider the matter again later, he said, but now “the timing’s not right.”
Also on Tuesday the Council:
• Approved on first reading the rezoning of 2203 Knights Trail Road from Sarasota County Open Use Estate to city of Venice Residential, Multi-Family 3.
• Approved on first reading a comprehensive plan amendment updating data on development activity in mixed-use future land use categories.
• Adopted an ordinance changing the future land use designation of 2501 and 2601 Curry Lane from Sarasota County Moderate Density Residential to city of Venice Institutional Professional and an ordinance rezoning the properties from Sarasota County Open Use Estate to city of Venice Office, Professional and Institutional.
• Adopted an ordinance changing the future land use designation of 1200 Kings Way Drive from Mixed Use Corridor to Moderate Density Residential and of 2001 Laurel Road from Moderate Density Residential to Mixed Use Corridor.
• Approved an amendment to the lease with Jetty Jack’s LLC to provide a rent abatement for periods when the city has precluded access to the property. The South Jetty concession was closed for about two months last year as part of the COVID-19 lockdown.
• Approved Change Order No. 1 for the Venetian Parkway Utility Relocation Project.
• Approved Amended and Restated Operational Assistance and Voluntary Cooperation Agreement with the Longboat Key Police Department; North Port Police Department; Sarasota Police Department; Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office; Sarasota-Manatee Airport Authority; New College of Florida Board of Trustees; and Sarasota County Schools Police Department.
• Appointed Cynthia Greene and Student Member Catherine Parise to the Historic Preservation Board, Alice Haber to the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization Citizen Advisory Network, Deborah Kelly to the Fire Pension Board of Trustees and Kirk Wilkenson to the Citizen Tax Oversight Committee.
• Proclaimed the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a day of service.
The video of the meeting is at VeniceGov.com under the “Meetings” header.