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. Yale dean on leave over offensive Yelp reviews leaves post

    Bizarre News

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University dean who was placed on leave over offensive reviews she posted on Yelp has left her position at the Ivy League institution, school officials said Tuesday.

  2. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  3. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane


    AUTAUGAVILLE, Ala. —The screen door hangs open to Laura's Country Kitchen but the dining room is empty with no one to feed.

    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.
  4. St. Pete Pride schedule and live blog

    Special Topics

    St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride's popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg's scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:45 p.m. 2 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth Avenue …

    A local business rings in Pride 2017 with some window decorations.