Two business-backed health insurance coalitions sent a warning signal Wednesday to Florida’s employers about the effects of rejecting Medicaid expansion for the uninsured.
In a nutshell: brace yourselves, this is bad for business.
They argue that if lawmakers continue to turn away an estimated $51 billion in federal money to pay for expanding Medicaid coverage, companies will restrict growth, businesses will flee to states with more competitive health insurance markets, and any company left standing that pays for health insurance will see its premiums rise as hospitals and doctors shift their losses from the uninsured to them.
“It will further the upward pressure of the cost shift to the commercially-insured patients,’’ said William Kramer, health care policy expert from the Pacific Business Group on Health in a conference call with reporters. The coalition represents large businesses in 50 states -- from Walt Disney Company, Target, Walmart and Boeing to Wells Fargo.
In other words, health care reform won't reduce costs for employers and employees in Florida, it will increase costs, they said.
The message from Kramer and Karen van Caulil, President of the Florida Health Care Coalition which represents some of the state’s largest businesses covering two million people, didn’t get through during the legislative session. Legislators adjourned without taking any action on drawing down the federal Medicaid money. They still have until Jan. 14, 2014, to decide. Full Story
On the court, the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat are both powerhouses hungry for a National Basketball Association championship.
But in the political arena, it's a blowout in favor of the Spurs.
Ahead of the 2012 elections, Spurs owner Peter Holt and his wife, Julianna, donated four times as much money to federal politicians and political groups as Miami Heat owner Micky Arison and his wife, Madeleine, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of data maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics.Full Story
George LeMieux, the one-time "maestro" to Charlie Crist, is now a fan of Gov. Rick Scott. In this video released by Scott's office, LeMieux today in Paris, France, praises Scott's job creation efforts.
If Crist runs, prepare to see LeMieux working on behalf of Scott.
Wednesday was report card day for the five largest banks that agreed to a $25 billion settlement with the 49 attorneys general, but they received mostly incomplete scores from the government-appointed monitor passing out the grades.
Joe Smith, the monitor, released a report on Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, CitiMortgage Inc., ResCap Partiers (formerly GMAC) and Wells Fargo. The banks were tested during two separate periods: July 1-Sept. 30 and Oct 1. to Dec. 31. According to a report by Smith last month, the banks have reported distributing $50.6 billion in direct relief to more than 620,000 homeowners through the settlement.
Smith found that the banks failed eight servicing standards they agreed to in the settlement, mostly related to processing loan modifications, a sure sign that the banks aren’t providing enough staff to manage the cases.
The banks did pass the majority of the standards they were tested on, but they weren’t tested on all of the 29 areas outlined in the settlement because of delays in providing documents and agreed upon services. Bank of America was tested on only a dozen, Chase on only 11, CitiMortgage on 15, ResCap on 11, and Wells Fargo on 20. …
Equality Florida announced today its "Get Engaged!" campaign, a statewide effort to secure the right to marry for all Floridians.
"As the entire country awaits the Supreme Court's rulings, it is time for all who believe in equality and fairness to take a clear stand on the right side of history," the organization's executive director Nadine Smith said in a conference call.
Though education will play a central role in the campaign, the specifics will largely depend on the ruling, Smith said. The organization plans to hold a telephone town hall in which legal experts will explain the decision's ramifications for Florida.
"While the fastest path to marriage equality in Florida is not yet certain, we do know that we will not just wait," Smith said. "We intend to win marriage, and all options are on the table including new legal challenges and the possibility of going back to the ballot to overturn Florida's discriminatory ban."
Former Rep. Allen West told a Washington radio show Wednesday that he's considering a run for office in 2016 -- and he wouldn't rule out challenging Sen. Marco Rubio. The host says Rubio rode into town as a "tea party hero" then got cozy with liberal Sen. Chuck Schumer on immigration.
"That's a pretty heavy lift," West said, saying a race would delight Democrats. But he added he has a lot of concerns about the immigration bill.
Maybe it's the out-of-sight, out-of-mind placement of the state Capitol. Maybe it's the sluggish economy and the stubborn unemployment numbers. Whatever the reason, the latest Quinnipiac University poll sends the signal that Florida voters are not happy with Tallahassee these days -- not that they really ever are.
When asked how voters feel about the job the state Legislature is doing, voters disapprove 49 to 32 percent. The numbers are predictably partisan for the Republican-led chamber: Democrats disapprove of the job lawmakers are doing 64 to 18 percent while Republicans approve 47 to 34 percent. But the telltale signal comes from crucial independent voters, who determine the fate of all statewide races in Florida. They disapprove of the job legislators are doing 48 to 33 percent.
On controversial issues, Florida voters are pretty clear where they stand:
*They support expanding Medicaid to cover Floridians without health insurance by 49-40 percent, virtually unchanged from a similar March poll, a clear contradiction from the firm rejection of the issue by Republican legislative leaders. …
Former CFO and potential Democratic candidate for governor has an op ed in today's Tampa Bay Times:
The recent Citizens Property Insurance deal with start-up insurance company Heritage Property and Casualty of St. Petersburg must be stopped immediately and thoroughly reviewed by our elected officials who appoint the Citizens board members. These officials include Gov. Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz.
As Florida's CFO from January 2007 to January 2011, I spent a great deal of time working with constituent groups to find ways to balance the need for Floridians to obtain affordable home insurance with the potential for potentially huge assessments that we could face from Citizens and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund after the next big hurricane. Over the weekend, I received my property insurance notification and was reminded that we are still being charged assessments from both Citizens and the catastrophe fund for the 2004 and 2005 storms!
The recent "deal" that was approved by the Citizens Board of Governors raises five major concerns....
PolitiFact looked at Jeb Bush's awkward comment in D.C. last week about immigrants being more "fertile."
"Bush said that immigrants are more fertile and the data back him up. National statistics show that birth rates among foreign-born residents are about 50 percent higher than for U.S.-born women. However, the rates are converging, they vary widely among immigrant groups and over the years, the rates change.
"Still, Bush’s words were on track, and we rate the statement Mostly True."
Florida voters give Sen. Marco Rubio negative ratings for his work on immigration reform and strongly disagree with his vote in the U.S. Senate against requiring background checks for those buying guns, but they still give him an overall 51 – 35 percent job approval rating. Sen. Bill Nelson also has a 51 percent approval rating.
In trial heats for the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton would defeat Jeb Bush 50 – 43 percent and best Rubio 53 – 41 percent. Bush would get 47 percent against Joe Biden’s 43 percent. Rubio gets 45 percent to Biden’s 43 percent.
Rubio’s approval rating is little changed from his 48 – 33 percent approval March 20, although on individual issues voters are not as enamored with the state’s junior senator:
Voters disapprove 41 – 33 percent of the way Rubio is handling the immigration issue.
Voters say 49 – 10 percent they think less favorably of Rubio because of his vote against expanded background checks.
Rubio's problem on immigration isn't with Republicans, however. Fifty-two percent of Republicans support him on immigration. Only 19 percent of Democrats approve and 32 percent of independents. Among Hispanics, 36 percent approve and 39 percent disapprove. That suggests voters are associating Rubio with the tougher border security and enforcement aspects of the legislation.Full Story
TAMPA — Alex Sink barely lost the 2010 governor's race to Rick Scott and as she weighs whether to take him on again, there is no shortage of armchair shrinks speculating about her thinking:
• The sudden death in December of her husband, former gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride, was too big a blow for her to run another grueling campaign without him.
• Sink wants to run because she needs to throw herself into something big and all-consuming after McBride's death.
• She resents all the attention on lifelong-Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist and is intent on being courted for as long as possible.
• She resents Crist so much, his expected candidacy would ensure she jumps in.
"Don't waste your time," Sink said Tuesday in a 45-minute interview with the Tampa Bay Times. "You're going to talk to people and they'll tell you I'm definitely running or that I'm definitely not. That's only because I'm not subtle enough to be giving little hints out there."
Sink will decide by Sept. 1, but she sounded anything like a retired politician merely intent on keeping her name in the mix. She spoke angrily about the direction of the state under Gov. Scott — "I mean, pick a day. Read the newspaper. This governor's incompetent" — and nearly as revolted by the prospect of Crist as the Democratic nominee.
"A disaster" is how she described the possibility. …
WASHINGTON (AP) — About 8 million immigrants living unlawfully in the United States would initially gain legal status under sweeping legislation moving toward a vote in the Senate, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday, adding the bill would push federal deficits lower in each of the next two decades.
The eagerly awaited report by Congress' non-partisan scorekeeping agency said the legislation would increase federal spending in the form of benefits for those gaining legal status, but those expenses would be more than offset by a rise in the labor force, increasing revenues.
Supporters of the legislation said the report would add to the momentum behind a measure that toughens border security at the same time it holds out the hope of citizenship to millions who came to the United States illegally or overstayed their visas. The CBO said deficits would fall by $197 billion across a decade, and by $700 billion in the following 10 years if the bill became law. The assessment came as the pace of activity increased at both ends of the Capitol on an issue that President Barack Obama has placed at the top of his domestic agenda. …
A coalition of Democratic groups, including the Democratic Governors Association, the Florida Democratic party, and labor groups, have formed a political committee, Florida For All, to take on Gov. Rick Scott. With a Democratic primary for governor likely, the idea is get started on the general election target target well before the nominee is chosen late next summer.
It's still in early stages, but we hear pollster Dave Beattie and media consultant Rich Davis - alums of the Alex Sink campaign (who presumably would have to find a new team if she runs for governor again) are working with the committee, along with Democratic consultant Ken Morley. The filing lists Carlos Odio, an alum of the Obama White House political office, as chairman of the committee.
No fundraising reports are filed yet, but you can bet it will be a high powered operation to help win back the governor's mansion in America's biggest battleground state.
When Amazon expands, like it wants to in Florida, state and local governments practically line up to offer to pay the company to move.
Virginia officials approved $4.4 million in taxpayer subsidies so Amazon could build two warehouses in the state. California reached a deal where the online company was free from sales taxes for a year, saving about $200 million. Texas officials forgave $269 million in back sales taxes to get a new warehouse. New Jersey officials put up millions more in breaks.
All the deals were cut in the past three years. All for a company that had $61.1 billion in sales last year. On Wednesday Hillsborough County commissioners will consider a package that could include up to $7.5 million in local and state tax breaks for Amazon to build a new warehouse in Ruskin for 1,000 employees.
Hillsborough's offer was disclosed last week, shortly after Gov. Rick Scott announced that Amazon wants to create 3,000 jobs in the state by 2016.
Yet enticements are so small in relation to Amazon's multibillion-dollar business that analysts don't even bother studying their affect on expansion. …
Here's a new one -- an infographic touting a dinner. This one is about the Florida Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson dinner, held Saturday at the Westin Diplomat in Broward.
The party offers up on its web site its metrics for what says was an unprecedented number of attendees and $850,000 in money raised (compared to last year's $600,000.) It even measured the applause, with a decibel meter.
For Florida political news today, the Buzz is your can't-miss-it source. Tampa Bay Times writers offer the latest in Florida politics, the Florida Legislature and the Rick Scott administration. Keep in mind: This is a public forum sponsored and maintained by the Tampa Bay Times. When you post comments here, what you say becomes public and could appear in the newspaper. You are not engaging in private communication with candidates or Times staffers.