Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Denying health coverage isn't progress

By refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature left a million poor residents without health care coverage and turned away billions in federal money. Senate President Don Gaetz sent a list of questions to the Obama administration this summer that ask for more flexibility and has not received a response. The administration should answer with a resounding "no," because states should not be given a loophole that allows them to deprive some needy residents of coverage.

The reason the state rejected an estimated $51 billion in federal money from Medicaid expansion over 10 years was because House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, does not want to cover working poor adults. So Gaetz wants Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to let states only partially expand Medicaid, so several hundred thousand uninsured Florida adults could be left out. Gaetz also asks that states be allowed to impose new cost-sharing and premium payments on poor Medicaid recipients, which is now strictly limited under federal law.

Gaetz sent the letter in late June and has yet to receive a reply, which gives Republicans the chance to huff about foot-dragging by the Obama administration. It's true that "no" should not take long to type.

There isn't any reason to trust that Republican legislators who have put ideology before providing their poorest citizens with health care coverage will do right by this vulnerable population when given more discretion. Weatherford's House-passed plan covered about 120,000 poor adults — nowhere near the 1 million Floridians eligible for expanded Medicaid — with a state subsidy of $2,000 per year, far less than the average cost of annual premiums in 2012 of $5,600 for single coverage. Weatherford stood by this plan even after the business lobbying groups urged that he approve expanded Medicaid for the jobs and economic activity it would bring.

If states are allowed to shift costs and premiums to Medicaid recipients, it may put coverage and health care out of reach for the poor. And a partial expansion would leave some people out, undermining the ACA's goal of nearly universal coverage.

The Obama administration already is being flexible in its interpretation of the federal law, letting states fashion their own approach to Medicaid expansion and the online health insurance exchanges as long as the program's overall purposes are met. A plan passed by the state Senate to use the federal money to expand coverage using private insurers instead of the Medicaid program probably would have passed muster in Washington. But what Gaetz is asking for would give state's too much discretion to deny poor people health coverage.

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Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
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: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

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
Updated: 04/23/18
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: 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