ESTIMATED MONTHLY HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUM FOR 400,000 UNINSURED AND CHILDLESS FLORIDA RESIDENTS TO BE SUBSIDIZED BY $2,000 IN ANNUAL FEDERAL INSURANCE-EXCHANGE DOLLARS (DEDUCTIBLES NOT INCLUDED) UNDER FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HEALTH CARE PROPOSAL
ESTIMATED CO-PAY FOR MEDICAL VISITS IF MEDICAID EXPANSION WERE TO MOVE FORWARD AND COVER MORE THAN ONE MILLION FLORIDIANS, AS SUGGESTED BY THE FEDERAL AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (NO PREMIUM OR DEDUCTIBLE REQUIRED)
AMOUNT OF FEDERAL MONEY THE FLORIDA HOUSE IS REJECTING IN FAVOR OF SPENDING $2 BILLION OVER 10 YEARS IN STATE MONEY FOR THE HOUSE HEALTH CARE PLAN
“THE PLAN THEY’RE OFFERING YOU TODAY DOESN’T WORK. LET’S NOT FOOL OURSELVES.”
– STATE REP. MIKE FASANO, R-NEW PORT RICHEY, ON APRIL 25
Source: Tampa Bay Times
It’s not that we were expecting a philanthropic miracle doused in victory glitter as we watched the Florida legislative session careen toward its despicable denouement last week, but we’d be lying if we said we weren’t holding on to a shred of hope that mere logic might prevail. And we had reason to do so for a minute, there. (NOTE: situation update here – Sen. Bill Nelson jumps into the fray.)
Recognizing the heartless House brass of his own Republican Party wasn’t about to budge on what is universally considered the easiest and most important issue of the year – a Medicaid expansion plan almost completely funded by the federal government that puts more than one million uninsured residents into a health-insurance safety net – state Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, introduced a last-minute amendment to the House’s flimsy “Nobama” plan that had rejected the federal aid. It wasn’t too far of a leap for Fasano, who used to serve in the state Senate (Fasano’s amendment was basically a carbon copy of the Senate’s health-care compromise that would accept the federal help while utilizing existing voucher structures in the state), but it was a bold one. Fasano’s self-proclaimed bestie, Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, drafted the current House plan (House Bill 7169), meaning there might be trouble later on the golf course.
In an act of desperation – or bipartisanship, depending on which seems more likely to you – House Dems climbed onboard with Fasano’s amendment, because what else were they going to do? The stage was set, however awkwardly, and we waited for Godot on Thursday. Would other Republicans realize the public relations disaster of denying free money to help poor people with their most fundamental needs? Could they possibly be snapped out of their antagonistic, fatalistic states-should-be-self-sufficient trance?
In short, no. But, fuck us if their excuses for blatant negligence shouldn’t be paraded around for the entire voting populace to see. In arguments that ranged all the way from snide to dumb, Republicans once again hand-puppeted the whole five-hour debate right back to its anti-Obamacare core, repeatedly referencing the litany of failures of the federal government while simultaneously ignoring their own. Every imaginable effigy was raised – sequestration, future children having to pay for our mistakes, “This isn’t about money” – while some chose to deflect, ignoring Fasano’s amendment altogether in favor of talking about the incremental change the as-is House bill would bring. It was a rancid spitball fight of lies, really. Rich people have heard that Medicaid sucks, so why should one million more people have it? Hey, all those people we aren’t going to help under the House plan will still get federal aid via the federal exchange, right? So, we’re still getting federal money; it just doesn’t look like we’re getting federal money.
The foot- and knuckle-dragging – and the blatant support of a corrupt health insurance industry and its ever-inflating premiums – was almost unwatchable for anyone with actual eyes in their sockets, and it ended as expected: By a vote of 74-45, Fasano’s amendment failed. House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, could barely conceal his tragic likeness to Tom Cruise in Risky Business when he smirked his way through thin-lipped congratulations to all on a “spirited debate.” And, just like that, it was over.
Well, not really. On April 26, the House went on to pass the Corcoran version of “caring” about people, setting the stage for absolutely nothing to happen after the Senate passed its version on Monday. See, usually there has to be a middle ground, but there can’t really be a middle ground if the funding of said middle ground is quite so diametrically opposed. Oh, and Weatherford will not relent, man. For their part, Democrats were appalled.
“The House GOP is tone-deaf and they have put political posturing before the health and well-being of hard-working families,” Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant said in a statement on Friday. “Their inaction is unconscionable.”