Monday, May 21, 2018
Opinion

Accepting Obamacare will aid needy children

The numbers are enormous.

A recent study released by Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families concluded that 475,112 Florida children are uninsured.

The Kaiser Family Foundation suggests 591,000 are uninsured.

There are 4 million children in Florida; 2 million reside in families designated as low income to poor. Florida ranks fourth from the bottom nationwide in the proportion of uninsured kids and third in raw numbers.

Whatever the correct statistic, Florida continues a shameful record for children's health care and critical human services.

The most recent data from KidsWell Florida counts 120,941 children in Pasco County and 15,257 are uninsured. There are 47,789 low-income to poor children and 22 percent are uninsured. Hernando County has 4,645 uninsured in a total children's population of 34,497. The low-income to poor children total 17,992 with 17 percent uninsured, suggesting better coverage for low-income families in Hernando than Pasco.

Obamacare could lift the bar and put all of Florida's uninsured children under its umbrella. Dental care and other services would prove an added benefit.

Gov. Rick Scott admitted Tuesday that Obamacare is here to stay. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said the same last week, acknowledging "Obamacare is the law of the land'' after the Nov. 6 election results.

Scott's legal challenge to the bill has already cost Florida taxpayers plenty and his continued refusal to accept the bill could have cost billions of dollars.

Florida voters expressed support of Obamacare by rejecting Amendment 1, which would have allowed language in Florida's constitution to ban Obamacare government mandates.

Scott's previously mean-spirited objection to Obama­care lost ground within his own party and certainly is not a desired direction for Florida's voting majority. Scott has an opportunity to address Florida's terrible record for caring for its kids and his comments to the Associated Press suggest he is reconsidering.

Refusing federal money is not new to Scott, who began his term by refusing federal mass transit money for high speed rail. Millions more have been lost to CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) via a complex Florida application process that denies insurance to several hundred thousand Florida children. An inflexible refusal of Obamacare would cost lives and the opportunity for up to a half a million children to find a medical home. Scott's softening of his piori oratory is welcome.

Covering Florida children is good for physicians, hospitals, and other providers who have joined the cry for Scott to accept the mandate.

The argument that Obamacare is too costly for Florida business and growth rings hollow when there is little cost to the state, yet clear benefits to Florida's health.

Other than his unwillingness to accept defeat of his personal agenda, there was little to justify the governor's railing against Obamacare. Perhaps his administration now is considering more reasonable actions to get coverage for Florida's kids.

Children's issues are half the story as working low-income adults will benefit from Obamacare coverage and the curtailing of insurer abuses. Such rejection could further reduce related Medicaid benefits to Florida's disabled and elderly populations.

The governor and his administration have been standing in front of a moving train. It is good hearing that they might get aboard.

Dr. Marc Yacht is the retired director of the Pasco County Health Department.

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