Hardball with Chris Matthews, 2/22/13, 7:00 PM ET

Florida’s health care reversal, governor embraces Medicaid expansion

Chris Matthews talks with former Florida governor Charlie Crist and Bloomberg View’s Jonathan Alter about Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s surprising decision to embrace the Affordable Care Act and President Obama’s Medicaid expansion.

Flipper vs Flopper in Florida! Crist, Scott, Obamacare and the next election

Updated

Takes one to know one?

Charlie Crist–the former governor of Florida who left the Republican party and joined the Democrats –called current Sunshine State Gov. Rick  Scott’s reversal on Medicaid “just stunning.”

“The only rationale I can apply to it is that it’s a re-election [issue] and [the switch] will benefit a million Floridians…It’s just a stunning reversal, which is pretty amazing to watch and witness” he said on Friday’s Hardball.  Scott has had “this dramatic change of heart that is a metamorphosis the likes of which is hard to compare,” Crist said.

Scott’s approval ratings are indeed dismal, and he’s up for re-election in 2014. According to a recent PPP poll, just 33% of Florida voters said they approved of him, compared to 57% that disapproved.

Crist, who’s frequently mentioned as a candidate for Florida governor again, would fare quite well if he decides to run—at least if the race were held today.  According to PPP, Crist would beat Scott 53% to 39% in a head-to-head matchup.

The former governor told host Chris Matthews that favorable poll results are  ”nice to see but… it’s awfully early for something like that.”

Scott created waves this week after he agreed to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid for three years. Less than a year ago, following the Supreme Court decision that the Affordable Healthcare Act is constitutional,  Scott declared it would be “devastating for patients, devastating for tax payers, it’s going to be the biggest job-killer ever. We’re not going to implement Obamacare in Florida.”

He added, “We’re not going to expand Medicaid because we’re going to do the right thing. We’re not going to do the exchange because what this does is raise the cost of healthcare for all Floridians. It just doesn’t work.”

Bloomberg View columnist and msnbc political analyst Jonathan Alter said governors like South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley or Texas Gov. Rick Perry who have said they won’t take the federal funds for Medicaid are being “cruel to people in your state.”

“They’re not only screwing poor people, they’re screwing what’s called the ‘sandwich generation’…people who have kids living at home and also elderly parents,” he told Matthews.

Crist said the way he looks at it is,  “A lot of Floridians’ money went up to Washington D.C.  It’s going to end up somewhere. Why not accept it, take it back, to benefit your fellow Floridians?”

Crist has also been accused of switching his position on Obamacare. In 2010, when he ran for Senate against Republican Marco Rubio as an independent, Crist said he would have voted in favor of Obama’s healthcare plan if he were elected. His campaign later said he “misspoke.”

Flipper vs Flopper in Florida! Crist, Scott, Obamacare and the next election

Updated