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Romano: If Gov. Scott is can-do guy, why doesn't Florida have Medicaid expansion?

It's been 15 months — and two entire Legislative sessions — since the governor declared Medicaid expansion was common sense. And yet nothing has gotten done, John Romano writes.

AP photo

It's been 15 months — and two entire Legislative sessions — since the governor declared Medicaid expansion was common sense. And yet nothing has gotten done, John Romano writes.

Not too long ago, Mike Pence predicted Obamacare would be both a disaster and a job killer across the nation. Not exactly a novel stance, but still significant today.

Why?

Because Pence, the Indiana governor, recently submitted a proposal seeking to use Obamacare's Medicaid expansion funds to help provide health insurance for his state's neediest residents.

If you're keeping track, that means nearly a dozen Republican governors have now embraced Medicaid expansion, or some variation of it, in the past couple of years.

And these are not left-leaning governors. They include some of the president's loudest critics, and some of the GOP's biggest names.

Which brings us to Florida.

And nearly 800,000 uninsured residents.

And a governor playing hide-and-sneak.

Once upon a time, Gov. Rick Scott called a news conference to say Medicaid expansion, at least in the short term, was just common sense. He declared he could not "in good conscience'' deny access to health care to our "poorest and weakest.''

That was 455 days ago.

Since then, Scott has barely spoken about Medicaid expansion. He has been content to allow House Speaker Will Weatherford be portrayed as the villain while the governor pretends money and lives aren't at stake.

This hologram-like leadership would be humorous if it wasn't so dangerous.

On a recent online video chat, MIT health economist Jonathan Gruber said states refusing to accept Medicaid funds are "willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy" as well as failing to provide potentially lifesaving health care.

"It really is just almost awesome in its evilness," Gruber said.

And it's not just academicians saying this. The Chamber of Commerce endorsed expansion. Health care organizations have lobbied for it. A year ago, a majority of the Florida Senate approved a plan to accept Medicaid dollars for an alternative plan.

And, still, Scott has refused to lend his voice.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer once drew cheers from conservatives for confronting the president on an airport tarmac, yet she aggressively pushed for expansion and held her state Legislature hostage until it passed.

"You have to look at the reality. You have to do the math," she told Politico. "It's not only a mathematical issue, but it's a moral issue."

Scott has a habit of relying on the same rehearsed talking points no matter what question is being asked. His latest includes a jab at gubernatorial opponent Charlie Crist.

He says the difference between Crist and him is the difference between someone who talks a lot and someone who get things done.

Really?

It's been 15 months — and two entire legislative sessions — since the governor declared Medicaid expansion was common sense. And yet nothing has gotten done.

Virtually every argument used by the state House to ignore expansion has since been discredited. And yet nothing has gotten done.

Republican governors in other states have persuaded lawmakers to accept Medicaid funds in the name of the economy and compassion. And yet nothing has gotten done.

So if you don't care about common sense, or the poorest and the weakest, or mathematics or moral issues, what do you care about, Gov. Scott?

Romano: If Gov. Scott is can-do guy, why doesn't Florida have Medicaid expansion? 05/19/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 7:17pm]
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