Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Politics

White House: Blocking Medicaid expansion would cost Florida 63,000 jobs

WASHINGTON — The White House has a Medicaid expansion argument for Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Republicans: It creates jobs.

A state-by-state report released Wednesday estimates Florida will lose out on 63,000 new jobs, mainly in health care, from 2014 to 2017. That's the three years the federal government would have paid the entire cost of providing health care to 848,000 people.

The study by the Council of Economic Advisers — titled "Missed Opportunities" — is part of an ongoing push by the Obama administration on a central part of the Affordable Care Act.

But change is not expected in Tallahassee. Incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner said he still supports a Medicaid expansion alternative his chamber developed, but there is little room to negotiate with counterparts in the House.

"Unfortunately, the federal government in their mandate is all or nothing," said Gardiner, R-Orlando. "I think that's one of the things that adds to the challenge."

The report relies on various studies, including one that looked at a Medicaid lottery in Oregon in which some people got coverage and others did not. It makes a number of other claims evaluating states that have expanded and 24 others that have not. It says, for instance, that with Medicaid expansion, 38,000 fewer Floridians would see "catastrophic out-of-pocket costs in a typical year." It estimates that about 35,000 women would have gotten a mammogram in the past year and more than 52,000 would have gotten a Pap smear.

President Barack Obama said in a statement: "I applaud the governors and state legislatures of both parties who have done the right thing and expanded Medicaid in their states, and I urge the governors and state legislatures who have not yet expanded Medicaid to put their constituents' health over partisan politics and give millions more Americans the access to affordable health care they deserve."

Scott, who emerged from obscurity in opposition to Obama's health care law, initially rejected the Medicaid expansion but reversed course in February 2013. "While the federal government is committed to pay 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians the needed access to health care," Scott said, talking about helping the "poorest and weakest."

Federal money has enticed the Florida GOP before — the stimulus bailed out the state budget during the recession — but Republican objections to the health care law have been intense in the more conservative House. Scott was criticized for not pushing enough.

Outgoing House Speaker Will Weatherford led the opposition even as state Senate leaders formed a plan to use $50 billion in federal dollars over a decade to allow people to purchase private coverage. Weatherford on Wednesday said that "based on the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, the lack of information on the federal budget impact and the ever-changing rules and regulations, I am skeptical of the job creation numbers generated by the president's office."

The jobs argument is not new, and estimates have varied. A Florida Hospital Association study last year said nearly 122,000 permanent jobs could be created over a decade with $51 billion in federal funds to the state. Former President Bill Clinton in a speech to Democrats in South Florida last week cited 78,000 jobs.

But top Florida Republicans say the state could be on the hook for billions in additional health care spending.

"We can have a legitimate discussion about priorities and the fiscally responsible way to handle this," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in an interview. "But what is difficult for Republicans to explain is why they would block legislation that would expand access to health care for hundreds of thousands of Florida residents when it wouldn't cost the state a single dime, at least for the next three years."

Charlie Crist, the top Democratic candidate trying to unseat Scott, seized on the report and said Scott was costing the state jobs. Scott's campaign replied with a statement about the more than 800,000 jobs Florida lost during the economic downturn that happened while Crist was governor. "Charlie Crist is the last person who should be talking about jobs," said spokeswoman Jackie Schutz, boasting of job growth under the current governor.

The Scott campaign did not address the subject of the White House report.

Times/Herald staff writer Tia Mitchell contributed to this report.

 
Comments
Democrats jubilant, and newly confident about 2018, as Alabama delivers win on Trumpís turf

Democrats jubilant, and newly confident about 2018, as Alabama delivers win on Trumpís turf

The Democratsí seismic victory Tuesday in the unlikely political battleground of Alabama brought jubilation ó and a sudden a rush of confidence ó to a party that has been struggling to gain its footing since Donald Trump won the presidency 13 months ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

WASHINGTON ó Congressional Republicans on Tuesday rushed toward a deal on a massive tax package that would reduce the top tax rate for wealthy Americans to 37 percent and slash the corporate rate to a level slightly higher than what businesses and co...
Published: 12/12/17
Trump signs $700 billion military budget into law

Trump signs $700 billion military budget into law

WASHINGTON ó President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed into law a sweeping defense policy bill that authorizes a $700 billion budget for the military, including additional spending on missile defense programs to counter North Koreaís growing nuclear w...
Published: 12/12/17
Donald Trump Jr. demands inquiry of House Intelligence Committee leak

Donald Trump Jr. demands inquiry of House Intelligence Committee leak

WASHINGTON ó Donald Trump Jr., the presidentís eldest son, has asked the House Intelligence Committee to open an investigation into leaked information related to his closed interview with the committee last week."To maintain the credibility of the in...
Published: 12/12/17
Original Watergate lock that burglars picked open is going to auction

Original Watergate lock that burglars picked open is going to auction

WASHINGTON -ó Itís the lock that launched a two-year investigation and took down a president. And now more than four decades later ó and for a starting bid of $50,000 ó it can be a really wonky conversation piece.Nate D. Sanders Auctions will auction...
Published: 12/12/17
Democrats say Trumpís tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

Democrats say Trumpís tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

WASHINGTON ó Plowing into the sexual harassment debate in a big way, President Donald Trump laced into Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday, tweeting that the New York Democrat would come to his office "begging" for campaign contributions and "do anyth...
Published: 12/12/17
Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ó National political leaders, a Hollywood actress and a retired basketball star made last-ditch efforts to woo voters in the Alabama Senate race Monday, as the candidates gave their final arguments in a pivotal special election that ...
Published: 12/12/17
PolitiFact: Looking back at the Trump teamís falsehoods of 2017

PolitiFact: Looking back at the Trump teamís falsehoods of 2017

President Donald Trump made many inaccurate statements in 2017. His White House team seems to be following in his footsteps when defending him. Some of Trumpís staffers have made the argument that it is valid to use inaccurate facts to bolster larger...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17
PolitiFact: Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017

PolitiFact: Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017

President Donald Trump’s words can be at odds with reality, a fact we’ve documented again and again during his first year in office. His claim that the Trump-Russia investigation is a "made-up story" earned Trump our 2017 Lie of the Year....
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17
Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

TAMPA ó With the Republican tax bill poised to eliminate the opportunity, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority on Monday said it had refinanced a big chunk of its debt to save money in the future.The authority borrowed $152 million from the bo...
Published: 12/11/17