Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: A million still waiting for Tallahassee to act on health coverage

The Florida Legislature opens its annual session today with Gov. Rick Scott's State of the State address and speeches from legislative leaders, but don't expect to hear a peep about the state's most important issue. They hope everyone forgets about the 1 million uninsured residents who would have health coverage if legislators would accept billions in federal Medicaid money. Floridians should keep reminding them of the sound moral and economic arguments for extending health coverage, even if they don't want to hear it in Tallahassee.

Now 25 states, including eight with Republican governors, have found a way to take the federal money and extend health coverage to more of their residents. The Obama administration approved a plan last month that is embraced by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, and expands Medicaid but requires small co-payments and premiums based on income. Other states such as Arkansas have won permission to use the money to subsidize the cost of private insurance. Yet Florida remains stuck in neutral with a governor who refuses to lead and a House speaker who refuses to listen.

This time last year, Scott had just won federal approval to move all Medicaid patients into managed care and had endorsed taking the Medicaid expansion money. Then House Speaker Will Weatherford poisoned the debate by using his opening day speech to rip the expansion as a "social experiment" and leaving no room for compromise. The Senate still voted 38-1 for a workable plan to use the expansion money to subsidize private insurance, but Weatherford refused to take up the legislation in the final days of the session.

Today, uninsured Floridians are even worse off. Scott won't reaffirm his support for Medicaid expansion. Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, points to problems with the debut of the federal marketplace and suggests the Senate is no longer interested in the issue. Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, repeats the same illogical arguments he made a year ago. They complain the Obama administration is inflexible when it has been flexible in approving reasonable alternatives in Michigan, Arkansas and elsewhere. What the administration won't do — and shouldn't — is tighten the eligibility standards as Weatherford suggests and tell 400,000 uninsured Floridians they could not benefit from the Medicaid expansion money. That would be cruel and unusual punishment, but this is the same state government that is violating federal rules by limiting emergency room visits by Medicaid patients.

The case for Florida to accept billions in federal money over the next decade has gotten stronger. It would create thousands of jobs, and the federal government still would pay the entire cost for three years and never less than 90 percent of the bill after that. The NAACP, the Florida League of Women Voters, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the health care industry support the expansion. What is lacking is the fortitude in Tallahassee to stand up to the Republican leadership. The governor won't do it, so Floridians have to raise their voices. And if there is no action on Medicaid expansion this spring, voters can respond appropriately in November.

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Editorial: A good first step in restoring the right to vote

Editorial: A good first step in restoring the right to vote

Allowing felons a meaningful chance to reclaim their right to vote and rejoin civic life is edging closer to reality in Florida. On Tuesday the state announced that a yearslong petition drive to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot h...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Something is seriously amiss at Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource agencies, which receive millions in federal and state money to match unemployed workers with local employers. First, the agencies appear to be taking credit — and money — for job placements...
Published: 01/22/18

A Chicago Tribune editorial: Shut down this shutdown habit

"Shutting down the government of the United States of America should never ever be a bargaining chip for any issue. Period. It should be to governing as chemical warfare is to real warfare. It should be banned."— Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., addressing ...
Published: 01/22/18
Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18