It Hurts So Good!
Florida’s Republican Legislature and governor, Rick Scott, are in a pickle. The people whose boneheaded obeisance to an idiotic ideology cost the state tens of billions in federal health-care dollars now are faced with paying the piper. Correction: Those office holders, most of them returned to their posts by a clueless electorate, won’t pay a dime. It’s the voters who will foot the bill.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott
In 2012, Gov. Scott turned down federal funds, offered as part of the Affordable Care Act, to expand Medicaid to cover all people with incomes of up to 138 percent of the poverty level. It meant giving up $66.1 billion over 10 years. The gov reversed himself in 2013, but the Republican-dominated Legislature never voted to accept the money, and Scott did not press his GOP brethren on the matter.
Hospitals left in lurch
Now the state is on the verge of losing 1.3 billion federal dollars that have been compensating hospitals and providers which care for uninsured and Medicaid patients. The funding would end in June because the ACA assumed states would expand Medicaid, eliminating hospitals’ need for money to pay for uninsured patients. The best way to keep that money coming would be to expand Medicaid, and hospital groups are clamoring for such expansion to keep their costs down.
Last week, we learned that a law passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott forced state insurance regulators to approve rate hikes by health insurers averaging 13.2 percent for 2015. By contrast, California regulators held rate hikes to 4.2 percent, and in New York they got increases lowered from 12.5 percent to 5.7 percent.
As U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat, said, “This law was passed to score political points against President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, but it only hurt Florida consumers by giving insurance companies free rein to hike premiums on the marketplace.” Deutch plans to co-sponsor a bill to “block unreasonable” premium hikes in states such as Florida, where insurance regulators have been stripped of their power.
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch
Congratulations, Florida citizens, for voting back into state office the persons who are robbing your pocketbooks to line the pockets of insurance companies and to satisfy their blind opposition to accepting money from the federal government. They cavalierly decide that the principle of the state’s independence from the central government is so important that you should have to sacrifice. And why not, since they’re not sacrificing anything themselves?
Politicians hurt people, help themselves
Oh, excuse me. In fall 2013, these Republicans decided to up their own health insurance cost from $8.34 a month to $50 a month, or from $30 for their families to $180, to match the costs for state employees. Fifty bucks a month: That’s $600 a year for persons whose incomes, in most cases, are far higher than those of the average Floridian, who pays a lot more. And most of those Floridians re-elected them.
Kind of makes you wonder if the Sunshine State ought to be renamed the Sadomasochistic State.