Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Failure at the top on Medicaid

Florida is stuck with a tea party governor who won't talk and a tea party House speaker who won't listen. Gov. Rick Scott refuses to repeat his earlier support for Medicaid expansion, and House Speaker Will Weatherford refuses to hear the economic and moral arguments for accepting billions of federal dollars to cover the poor. Congress is finally rejecting such ideological rigidness in embracing a budget compromise, and the Legislature should do the same on health care.

At least twice last week, Scott declined to publicly reaffirm his support for accepting billions from Washington to expand Medicaid. The Republican governor's embrace always sounded unenthusiastic, and it came hours after the Obama administration approved his request in February to convert the state's entire Medicaid program into a managed care system. Scott did not push the House to adopt a Senate plan to take the federal money, and he dropped the subject after the Legislature adjourned in May. Now he chokes on his own words of support as he gears up his re-election campaign.

While the governor dodges, Weatherford clings to his flawed arguments against expansion as if they will ring true if he repeats them often enough. The Wesley Chapel Republican complains that Medicaid is a flawed system, yet fails to mention he refused to let the House vote on a bill passed 38-1 by the Senate that would have used the Medicaid money to subsidize private insurance. He accuses the Obama administration of being inflexible, yet the administration has allowed Arkansas to spend the Medicaid money on private insurance. He contends the Medicaid expansion would be too expensive, yet Washington would pay the entire cost for three years, other federal money to treat the poor will be cut and the state could save millions it spends now on health programs. The real problem is that Weatherford believes adults are not entitled to access to affordable care and should just work harder to get better jobs that provide coverage. He's out of touch, and Floridians who need health care are out of time.

Because Scott and Weatherford are oblivious to reality, more than 800,000 Floridians too poor to receive federal subsidies to buy insurance on the federal marketplace can't qualify for Medicaid. Their pinched ideology ignores the pent-up demand for health coverage by the Floridians they were elected to represent. In October and November, more than 18,000 Floridians tried the federal marketplace and learned they are eligible for Medicaid under the existing program. More than 17,000 Floridians picked a private plan — more residents than in any other state using the federal marketplace. Imagine how many more residents would be covered if the federal marketplace worked as intended or Florida had created its own exchange.

BayCare Health System president and CEO Steve Mason told the Times' editorial board earlier this month there "is an ideological stake driven deeply into the ground" in Tallahassee on Medicaid expansion. When business leaders talk to legislators about the issue, he said, the lawmakers blame the failure to act on leadership (read Weatherford). Mason said BayCare is "not going to stop'' pushing for action. Neither should other business leaders or voters who need health coverage.

The U.S. House stood up to conservative groups last week, approving a modest bipartisan budget compromise. Why won't reasonable Democrats and Republicans in the Florida Legislature do the same and stand up for uninsured Floridians and fiscal responsibility?

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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: 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

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
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18