Saturday, February 24, 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: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the stateís safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last weekís massacre ...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Associationís solid w...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nationís conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places ó South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington ó as survivors, victimsí families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasnít enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldnít take months or another tragedy for Florida ó which is hot and full of seniors ó to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. Thatís why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18