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Column | John Romano

Gov. Scott putting politics above people in need

Rick Scott knows best.

It doesn't matter what the president says. It doesn't matter what laws Congress passes. It doesn't matter how the U.S. Supreme Court rules.

Rick Scott knows best.

It doesn't matter how many millions of Floridians are without health insurance. It doesn't matter how high your insurance premiums climb. It doesn't matter that emergency rooms have been turned into standing-room-only free clinics.

Rick Scott still knows best.

Haven't you figured that out yet?

Florida's governor is a one-man think tank. He is a walking legal precedent. He is going to tell you what is best for you even if you didn't bother to ask.

Let's be very clear about this:

Rick Scott is so danged smart, he is willing to play with people's lives. He is telling Florida's most desperate citizens that he's not going to expand health insurance through Medicaid even though the federal government is paying almost entirely for the plan.

Sadly, this has become a problem in Florida. Not the idea that people may have differing opinions, but the idea that Scott ignores every viewpoint that does not agree with his.

We saw it with drug testing. With light rail. With voter registration. With corporate tax cuts. And now, most conspicuously of all, with health care.

When a lower court ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional last year, Scott urged the president to immediately repeal some provisions. Yet now that the highest court in the land has upheld Obamacare, Scott acts as if our nation's laws are somehow beneath him.

This isn't about disagreement among elected officials. This is about one man's hubris.

Now does all of this mean the Affordable Care Act is perfect?

Of course not.

Does it mean Obamacare is a definite improvement?

No, not even that is guaranteed.

But here's what is indisputable:

This law has good intentions. It is both practical and compassionate. It is rooted in the idea that we take care of our own in this country. At the very least, it is an attempt to fix a problem that has existed forever.

And yet Rick Scott acknowledges none of this.

He has called the law "horrible.'' He has called it a "disaster." He has bemoaned the idea that the federal government is messing in matters best left up to individual states.

So … what's your plan, governor?

You've had two years to address health care in Florida, and you have done nothing.

There are nearly 4 million people in this state without insurance. That means no preventive care, which leads to more costly medical conditions. That means hospitals charge higher prices to make up for all the free care they provide in emergency rooms. That means insurance companies pass on the costs to consumers by continually raising rates. That means pre-existing conditions are never covered.

And what has Scott been doing to correct that?

Urging people to eat better and quit smoking.

Gee, thanks, Dr. Rick.

Maybe it would be different if Scott was reasonable. Maybe it would be different if he acknowledged the benefits of providing affordable health insurance for everyone. Maybe it would be different if his arguments weren't so full of holes.

Go back and look at Scott's complaints about the Affordable Care Act. He makes outlandish statements, and offers zero evidence to back them up.

Instead, he cites vague conversations with business leaders. No names. No details. Just poppycock generalizations meant to scare the middle class.

Meanwhile, Florida suffers.

From the moment he took office, Scott has insisted that the Affordable Care Act would be overturned. And so he has turned down more than $100 million in federal funds, and completely blown off any preliminary preparations.

Whenever asked about the possibility the law would be upheld by the Supreme Court, he always assured us that he would be prepared to follow through in that unlikely event.

Scott talking to the Palm Beach Post in November 2011:

"It's my job, if it's the law of the country, to be ready when it's the law … when it's the law of the land, we'll implement the law.''

Scott's spokesman in a Florida Today story earlier this month:

"We will follow the law, but we're not going to make any movements until that unlikely day comes.''

Gov. Scott on a conference call 10 days ago:

"If it is the law of the land, then we will comply …''

And now, today?

Rick Scott says he will not "implement Obamacare.''

And so it looks like he doesn't give a damn about people in need.

He has offered no credible alternative to the health care reform law, and says he will turn down the federal government's offer to provide health insurance.

Ah, but I suppose you shouldn't worry too much.

If you have a sick child, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, if you have high prescription costs, no job and no way to afford insurance, I'm sure you'll still be okay.

After all, Rick Scott knows best.

Gov. Scott putting politics above people in need 06/30/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 1:05pm]
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