Florida Leaders Play Politics, Sacrifice People
It looks like the bad guys in the Florida Legislature and the governor are going to win the battle over whether to grant health care to 830,000 uninsured people. Anti-Obamacare politics are winning – and the Obama administration is helping the radical Republicans win it.
Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner
The issue is whether to expand Medicaid to cover those who fall between Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act and are thus uninsured. The Republicans in the Florida Senate, led by President Andy Gardiner of Orlando, want to expand Medicaid with private coverage, which the Obama administration has agreed to. It would pay the state $78 billion over 10 years. In his public remarks, Scott says it will cost the state $5 billion over that period, but omits the little detail about the $78 billion. He and the Republican-controlled House adamantly refuse to make Medicaid coverage more widely available, thus rejecting the money.
The color of money
Florida Gov. Rick Scott
Now, they don’t reject all federal funds, mind you. Florida was due to receive $2.2 billion to help cover the losses hospitals incur in treating uninsured people, and the state was told two years ago that the money would be withheld if Medicaid coverage weren’t expanded. When the Obama administration indicated it would follow through on its warning, Scott was outraged – so much so that he sued.
By now you’re likely scratching your heads, wondering why the governor and his legislative cohorts would refuse some federal funds and demand others. There is a simple answer: The money for Medicaid is tied to the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Accepting it would be lending credence to the program. The money for the hospitals is separate from Obamacare, so that’s okay.
Are you outraged yet, people? Or are you so suffocated by apathy that paying out of your pocket money that the federal government wanted to give you isn’t anything to get upset about? Are you beyond caring that Scott and his cronies are robbing you blind in order to indulge their personal political animosity? Because that’s exactly what’s happening.
Fed hurts its own cause
And the Obama administration is aiding and abetting them. The feds decided to give Florida $1 million of the $2.2 million toward hospitals’ unpaid patient bills. Further, the administration now is suggesting a method whereby the state could possibly receive even more than the $1 million.
So … Scott likes the idea, and there’s no way he and the House Republicans are going to relent and expand Medicaid to receive the $78 billion when the Legislative session, halted prematurely by the House over this issue, resumes this week. Meanwhile, the state’s Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida said the arrangement will direct more money to for-profit hospitals, and the nonprofits will suffer financially. The alliance said urban hospitals treating the indigent would lose $302 million, while for-profits would gain $100 million.
Hospitals will suffer
Tony Carvalho, president, Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida
Under the plan, alliance president Tony Carvalho said, some “safety-net hospitals” could be put out of business. “We are urging the governor and his team to re-evaluate the harmful impacts of this proposed redistribution.”
Medicaid expansion is urged by many business associations, the hospital industry and most health care groups. The governor and the House will not be moved. For them, politics trumps pragmatism. They dig for every argument under the Florida sun to justify their position, but they all are shallow and transparent.
Not to everyone, however. The ignorant don’t know any better, and the ideologically obtuse are in the same camp with these politicians. Pragmatism on behalf of the people they represent is absent. Their politics are all that matter to them.