Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming public opposition. This week, Congress will race to approve an unneeded $1.5 trillion tax cut that primarily benefits businesses and the wealthy. Yet there is no rush to extend two essential programs vital to so many Floridians: federal flood insurance for businesses and homeowners, and health insurance for children from low-income families. Congress should not stop working this week until these real priorities are addressed.

Flood insurance

The National Flood Insurance Program is set to expire Friday, yet Congress remains unable to compromise on a long-term extension of the program that is billions in debt and desperately needs reform. If the program isn’t at least extended this week, home sales in flood-prone areas would be stalled throughout Tampa Bay and the nation. Home buyers with federally backed mortgages in those areas are required to have flood insurance, and NFIP could not write new policies if Congress does nothing and the program is allowed to expire even for a short time. There is no justification for allowing that to happen.

The problem is too many members of Congress from inland states want residents in coastal states such as Florida — which accounts for more than one-third of all federal flood insurance polices — to shoulder far too much of the burden. The House passed unfair legislation last month that gradually would eliminate subsidized rates and keep premiums rising too high and too fast. Floridians have received just $4.2 billion of the $58 billion in paid flood insurance claims over the last 40 years, and the notion that this insurance is primarily a sweet deal for wealthy waterfront homeowners is off base. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, notes that about seven of every 10 flood insurance policyholders in his Pinellas district live in homes that are not on the water and have average values of $190,000.

The long-term answer for overhauling flood insurance involves updating and detailing flood maps, fairly spreading the risk and stopping multiple claims on properties that should be elevated or bought and razed. The best short-term answer this week likely is to extend the flood insurance program as it is and try again next year.

Children’s Health Insurance Program

Florida is among at least 16 states expected to run out of federal money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program by the end of January, which threatens health coverage for about 215,000 kids in this state. Congress failed to reauthorize the program before the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, and states have made do with the federal money on hand. Now the clock is running out, and so is the money.

Low-income families should not have to worry whether health care for their kids will disappear next month, and those children should not be pawns in a partisan fight in Congress. Ideally, Congress would approve Senate legislation this week that would steer more than $100 billion over five years to CHIP. If Congress can approve tax cuts that would add nearly $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit, surely it can spend a fraction of that amount to keep health insurance for kids from low-income families and worry about paying for it later.

Yet the reality is Congress is consumed with tax cuts and unlikely to make a long-term commitment to CHIP. At the very least, enough money should be allocated to CHIP to ensure states have the cash to keep the program running through the first three months of 2018. No one should leave Washington for Christmas without resolving this issue and easing the minds of parents desperate to maintain access to health care for their kids.

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Wednesday’s letters: How home rule can help fight Red Tide

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Updated: 2 hours ago
Cartoons for Wednesday, Sept. 19

Cartoons for Wednesday, Sept. 19

Editorial cartoons from Times wires
Published: 09/18/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

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Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18

Column: We’re measuring the economy all wrong

Ten years after the collapse of Lehman Bros., the official economic statistics — the ones that fill news stories, television shows and presidential tweets — say that the U.S. economy is fully recovered.The unemployment rate is lower tha...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectation’’ is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18