Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: A Medicaid tale of two GOP governors

This is a tale of two Republican governors who oppose the Affordable Care Act. One looks out for the best interests of his state's residents, and one does not. One is pragmatic about accepting federal money to cover the uninsured, and one is hypocritical. Guess which one is Ohio Gov. John Kasich and which one is Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Hint: Both governors live in states with highly ranked college football teams, but the pragmatic one lives where it snows.

Kasich took extraordinary measures this week to win legislative approval to accept more than $2.5 billion in federal dollars in the next fiscal year to expand Medicaid and cover 275,000 uninsured Ohioans. That makes Ohio the 25th state to move toward accepting Medicaid expansion money, including a number of states with Republican governors. Yet Florida sits on the sidelines because of a weak governor and a stubborn state House speaker who places ideology above the health of the state's residents.

Florida would receive $51 billion in federal money over 10 years to cover 1 million uninsured residents if the Legislature would vote to accept the Medicaid expansion money under the Affordable Care Act. Federal money would cover the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years, and then the state would gradually pick up part of the cost until it paid 10 percent. Now low-income Floridians who would be covered by the expansion fall into a gap: They don't qualify for Medicaid, and they make too little money to qualify for subsidies to buy insurance in the new federal marketplace. So they will continue to show up in hospital emergency rooms for expensive charity care, and the costs are paid by taxpayers at public hospitals and by paying patients through higher insurance premiums. Scott said Florida should take the Medicaid expansion money, but unlike Kasich, he hasn't lifted a finger to force the issue.

One of House Speaker Will Weatherford's specious arguments against accepting the Medicaid expansion money is that the federal government can't be trusted to pay its share and could force the state to pay more. Yet the Scott administration wants the federal government to contribute another $2 billion a year to a different program that helps cover health care costs for the poor and uninsured. So it's fine to seek federal money and use it to pay for health care costs for poor Floridians — as long as the money is not tied to President Barack Obama's signature health care reform. That's the kind of pretzel logic that only makes sense in Tallahassee.

In Ohio, the governor's office says on its website that if the state did not accept the Medicaid expansion money, the federal money and the jobs it will create would go to other states. That is exactly what Florida is doing by giving up billions in federal dollars and the thousands of jobs it would help create to provide health care to residents who need it.

There is a smarter approach. Scott should prod the Legislature to accept the federal Medicaid expansion money, and Florida does not even have to spend it on Medicaid. It could use the Arkansas model, which uses the money to subsidize the cost of private insurance for the uninsured. Until then, uninsured Floridians who don't qualify for Medicaid but earn too little income to qualify for insurance subsidies have a last resort:

Buy a snow shovel and move to Ohio, where the Republican governor and legislative leaders are more compassionate and economically pragmatic than their Florida counterparts.

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Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18