AMOUNT OF TAX DOLLARS THE STATE EXPECTS TO SPEND UNDER Florida HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES’ FLORIDA HEALTH CHOICES PLAN IN ORDER TO PROVIDE $2,000 A YEAR TO RECIPIENTS TO PURCHASE PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE
PROJECTED 10-YEAR COST OF EXPANDING THE STATE’S MEDICAID PROGRAM, AS ORIGINALLY REQUIRED BY THE FEDERAL AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN AUGMENTED BY $51 BILLION IN FEDERAL funds
NUMBER OF UNINSURED DISABLED ADULTS AND ADULTS WITH CHILDREN LIKELY TO BE COVERED BY FLORIDA HEALTH CHOICES, COMPARED TO THE MORE THAN ONE MILLION THAT WOULD BE COVERED BY MEDICAID EXPANSION
“THE HOUSE’S PLAN WILL COST FLORIDA TAXPAYERS ON TOP OF WHAT THEY ARE ALREADY TAXED UNDER THE PRESIDENT’S NEW HEALTH CARE LAW.” – GOV. RICK SCOTT, IN AN APRIL 11 STATEMENT
Sources: Miami Herald, Governor’s Press Office
We, along with the rest of the horrified Florida media, have been doing our best not to collapse into gallows hysterics at the teenage-wasteland bro-fights in the legislature over the rather important notion of the state running afoul of the Affordable Care Act, set for full implementation in 2014. It’s only hilarious, though, if you don’t take into account the lives of actual people hanging in the balance. Hilarious, we say.
First, Gov. Rick Scott acquiesced in some kind of “I loved my dead mom” manner and allowed that he supported a full Medicaid expansion, at least for the three years in which it will cost the state nothing, in exchange for $51 billion federal dollars and one million newly insured potential voters. Then the Senate leadership cobbled together a workaround that would still (maybe) allow the feds to fund a new insurance program, but do so through a privatized voucher system that comes with “I still hate Obama” stickers attached. Now, having conceded that his own family was assisted by Medicaid in their time of need, increasingly less beau-hunky House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel – after some Bond-esque “never say never” on expansion nonsense – cavorted with state Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes (because, butter), to come up with a new alternative that would reject the federal dollars, insure one-tenth of the people and make the state miserable. Why? Because the federal government is a monster and is not to be depended upon.
“The Florida House has developed a plan that will fit the needs of Florida, not the requirements of Washington,” Weatherford dusted off his Tenther button, in a prepared statement. “Our plan increases our commitment to a strong safety net and ensures Floridians are not on the hook for billions we currently do not have.”
Presumably, that would also include the $51 billion we won’t get for free? Under the House plan – which the governor has already rejected publicly, so why bother? – just 130,000 people would be given $2,000 each to buy private insurance from companies that will more than likely turn that money into campaign donations and lobbying kitties. The Senate, to some degree, is viewing it as a negotiable starting point.
“It’s not an alternative. It’s a cruel joke,” Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, said, according to wfsu.org. “It’s not even close to what we have.”
And, officially speaking, the state’s Democratic Party is raising its hackles to the sky. “With only three weeks left in session, the House GOP’s proposal is a day late and a dollar short,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Alison Tant said in a statement. “Lives are literally at stake and this paltry alternative illustrates the House Republicans’ failure to put the people of Florida before political points.”
What’s worse, the money to fund Weatherford’s big adventure? It’s likely to be shaved off the proposed state-worker pay raises all the nice politicians promised. Because if you’re going to kick the common man, you might as well kick him twice. It’s the Floridian way.