Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

John Romano: No facts, no logic, no reality in Will Weatherford's Medicaid stance

I think Will Weatherford's heart was in the right place. It was his facts, theories, justifications and conclusions that seemed to wander off aimlessly.

The state House speaker's rationale for rejecting Medicaid expansion on Tuesday was not just debatable, it was nonsensical.

Seriously, what was he trying to say?

He provided zero facts. Zero alternatives. Zero acknowledgement that Florida hospitals were on the hook for $2.8 billion in uncompensated care last year.

He cited no studies, passed off theories as reality, and failed to offer even a glimmer of hope for a state that has one of the highest ratios of uninsured citizens in the nation.

His overriding concern — that government health costs are already out of control — is certainly legitimate and worthy of discussion.

But you cannot enter that discussion without conceding the current system is also too costly, inefficient and illogical.

These politicians who act horrified that we may actually use federal funds to provide health care for poverty-level adults are being shamefully disingenuous.

They know we're already spending federal tax dollars on uninsured health care. We're just doing it haphazardly in emergency rooms instead of offering sensible care at a general practitioner's office.

Not to mention, those hospital debts that aren't covered by federal money end up being absorbed by the rest of us through our own higher medical bills.

That is why change is needed. And that's one of the goals behind Medicaid expansion.

It is an attempt to divert federal funds from costly emergency room visits and redirect those dollars to preventive care that may actually save money and lives in the long run.

Can anybody guarantee it will work that way?

Absolutely not.

But doesn't it seem more logical than what we're doing now? Doesn't it at least seem like an admirable attempt?

Weatherford has to know this. Even worse, he has to know that passing on Medicaid expansion could have disastrous consequences for residents in Florida. Because these reforms are on the way whether we're on board or not.

You see, a lot of those federal funds now going to hospitals such as Tampa General and Bayfront Medical will soon be used for the expansion of Medicaid nationally. So if Florida does not go along with the plan, this state is going to lose on every level.

Hospitals? They could be bankrupted without those uncompensated care funds.

Your tax dollars? They'll be spent on Medicaid patients in dozens of other states.

Florida's uninsured adults? Yup, they'll still be uninsured.

And yet, Weatherford did not touch on any of these issues in his speech on the opening day of the Legislative session. Instead, he scrambled to take Gov. Rick Scott's vacated seat on the sputtering tea party bandwagon.

Weatherford talked of the need for safety nets. He told a heartbreaking story of how a safety net provided care for his late brother and absorbed outrageous hospital bills for his parents. He said he supported safety nets for the sickest and weakest among us.

And then he suggested governments shouldn't be paying for those safety nets.

That isn't a solution, it's a fantasy.

Weatherford is simply spouting the conservative hard line without any concern for real-life ramifications. He's putting political principles ahead of people's lives.

That's either incredibly naive or terribly cynical.

Here's hoping for naive.

John Romano: No facts, no logic, no reality in Will Weatherford's Medicaid stance 03/06/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 3:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cue the Scott Frost to Nebraska speculation


    Nebraska shook up the college sports world Thursday afternoon when it fired athletic director Shawn Eichorst.

    And that should scare UCF fans.

  2. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us


    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  3. Make-A-Wish Foundation aims to help more kids in Tampa Bay


    The Make-A-Wish Foundation is on the lookout for sick children in the Tampa Bay area who need a once-in-a-lifetime pick-me-up.

    Grace Savage, a 10-year-old girl with a chromosomal disorder made a trek to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium last year, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation intends to beef up its presence in the Tampa Bay area after a reorganization. The region is now the responsibility of the foundation's Southern Florida chapter, one of the most active in the country, with more than 11,000 wishes granted so far. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times ]
  4. William March: Frank Reddick says all-white Tampa council possible


    A decline in the percentage of black voters in Tampa's only majority-black City Council district, District 5, has council member Frank Reddick worried.

    City Council member Frank Reddick said that if Tampa can't maintain African-American voter numbers, he could be the council's last African-American representative. [JAMES BORCHUK   |   Times (2016)]
  5. Florida hides details in nursing home reports. Federal agencies don't.


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott widened his offensive Thursday against the Broward nursing home he blames for the deaths of 10 residents by setting up a tip line for information, but when it comes to access to the inspection reports of all nursing homes, the governor's administration has heavily censored what the …

    In the foreground is a document detailing the findings of a Feb. 2016 inspection at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills obtained from a federal agency, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Behind it is the state?€™s version of the same document, from the Agency for Health Care Administration, showing how it has been redacted before being released to the public. [Miami Herald]