Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A call to Scott's conscience on Medicaid expansion

Gov. Rick Scott said the magic word.


On Feb. 20, when Scott announced his support for a three-year expansion of Medicaid that infuriated conservatives, he said: "I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care."

Conscience is a powerful word, one that politicians should never drop casually. It speaks to a deep moral conviction, something that can't be compromised — as opposed to a product of polls, situational politics or the next election.

So the question becomes this: If Medicaid expansion is a matter of conscience to Florida's governor, shouldn't he be doing everything humanly possible to make it the law in this state?

Scott lately has traveled the state and ceremonially distributed recognition money to local school districts (on Monday, he was in Sunrise). Not exactly a matter of great importance.

In last week's highly publicized State of the State speech, Scott did not mention Medicaid until the 30th minute of a 37-minute address, relegating it to oh-by-the-way status.

And when reporters pressed Scott on how hard he would lobby legislators to make sure it happens, he said: "My plan is to do what's right, both for taxpayers and for the uninsured."

Scott makes it clear that he has two priorities in the 2013 legislative session, neither of which is health care. He wants to raise teachers' salaries by $2,500 and enact a sales-tax break for manufacturing equipment.

Scott could be showing up at hospital emergency rooms, draping a compassionate arm around an uninsured mom and getting Medicaid on the nightly news. (Last year, he did similar events to call public attention to the need to fight fraud in the no-fault car insurance system.)

Surely, finding a way to insure 1 million more Floridians is a slightly bigger deal than reducing staged car accidents to collect a $10,000 personal-injury insurance premium, right?

Scott also could take a ride down U.S. 19, into the heart of Florida, and hold a town hall meeting on the Nature Coast with, say, Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness.

Dean represents a region suddenly forced to cope with the closing of a vital economic engine, the nuclear plant in Crystal River. The plant shutdown could mean even more people will lose their health insurance.

Dean, a former Citrus County sheriff and cattleman, is hardly anybody's idea of a champion of big federal entitlement programs. Like Scott, he supports Medicaid expansion and says Florida doesn't really have a choice.

"I, for one person in the state of Florida who's a representative of the people, do not want poor families to be denied," Dean said.

Just as it is impossible to be a little bit pregnant, it's also impossible to be a halfway supporter of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.

Is Scott, hobbled by chronically low poll numbers, missing a golden opportunity to show people in Florida what his conscience is telling him?

Steve Bousquet can be reached at or (850) 224-7263.

A call to Scott's conscience on Medicaid expansion 03/11/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 11, 2013 10:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Sen. Bill Nelson ready to campaign on GOP failure to fix Obamacare

    State Roundup

    For years, Sen. Bill Nelson has faced a steady barrage of partisan attacks over the Affordable Care Act, but as he begins the 2018 re-election campaign, the Democrat stands to benefit from a flipped script:

     U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson talks to local residents about the Affordable Care Act  at the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse in Tampa, Florida on July 3. )OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times)
  2. Tiger Bay panel: End permanent revocation of voting rights for convicted felons


    TAMPA – A panel of elected officials and advocates including Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren argued in a forum Friday that Florida should end its practice of permanently revoking the voting rights of people convicted of felonies.

    Rep. Sean Shaw, D- Tampa, on the floor of the Florida House.[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  3. Temple Terrace Citizen of Year skips his awards banquet in protest of Confederate event


    TEMPLE TERRACE — Travis Malloy was supposed to show up to the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club on Thursday to pick up his Citizen of the Year award at the Chamber of Commerce banquet.

    Instead, Malloy stayed away in protest.

    Travis Malloy declined to collect his Citizen of the Year award at the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club on Thursday to protest the club's decision to host a Southern Heritage event with a War on the South program Sept. 2. Malloy was honored for starting community gardens and a farmers market. [Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce]
  4. Editorial: Making tax increases harder would sentence Florida to mediocrity


    Florida has one of the lowest state tax burdens in the nation, a long list of unmet needs and a Republican-controlled state government that treats any talk of a tax increase as heresy. Yet Gov. Rick Scott wants voters to approve a constitutional amendment to make it even harder for the Legislature to raise taxes. That's …

    Gov. Rick Scott wants voters to approve a constitutional amendment to make it even harder for the Legislature to raise taxes. That’s election-year pandering, not leadership.
  5. What happens if you look at the eclipse without glasses? Want a hole in your vision?


    It's the burning question of the week.

    The solar eclipse Monday will be quite the Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson moment for Americans to share. The idea is to walk away without frying your eyeballs.

    Colton Hammer tries out his new eclipse glasses he just bought from the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City on Wednesday in preparation for the eclipse on Monday. [Scott G Winterton | Deseret News via AP]