Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Florida a state of confusion on insurance

Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders didn't invite the enterprising "Obamacare Enrollment Team" that set up shop in a Tallahassee church this week and spread incomplete and inaccurate information on the Affordable Care Act. But they helped set the stage by being so hostile to the federal program that there is a dearth of federally funded navigators in the state to provide one-on-one assistance just when uninsured Floridians need it most. Tallahassee's leaders need to reconsider whom they are really hurting in their shortsighted aversion to ACA.

As the Tampa Bay Times' Tia Mitchell discovered this week in Tallahassee, Florida consumers are in danger of being misled on the details of the heath care reform law, particularly with the federal website, healthcare.gov, a dysfunctional mess. Mitchell attended a forum at St. Mary's Primitive Baptist Church in Tallahassee where presenters draped an "Obamacare Enrollment Center" banner across the pulpit and used the "O" logo from President Barack Obama's election campaign. The entire event seemed staged to deceive people into thinking they would get complete and accurate information on the ACA. But it was really the work of Stuart-based Fiorella Insurance Agency, and the information was far from complete or accurate.

Presenters didn't make clear that federal subsidies to buy private health insurance are only available for plans sold on the government marketplaces (not through private agencies like theirs) and for households who earn between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty line. The ACA marketplaces are not open to people 65 and older, who have access to Medicare — though many audience members appeared to be Medicare-eligible. Nor did the presenters point out that anyone making less than the poverty line is out of luck because, unlike 25 other states, Florida leaders opted not to expand Medicaid to cover the state's hundreds of thousands of poor adults.

The entire episode underscores a long-held concern by ACA advocates that consumers, lacking basic information, could easily buy a product that is not the best deal for them.

Florida's leaders have all but insured that is the case. Last spring, state lawmakers imposed extra hurdles for federally funded navigators to get on the job, requiring them to be finger-printed and pass a background check, requirements that don't apply to workers who help people enroll in Medicare or Medicaid. Scott raised baseless privacy concerns about using the navigators. And, in a move that could have been the most detrimental, he banned navigators from county health department offices — the very place that uninsured residents go to get medical assistance. There are only 150 licensed navigators in the entire state, while another 100 or so await approval.

If Scott and legislative leaders wanted to help the state's millions of uninsured, they would have looked for ways to get people clear information about the law and their options, as ACA-friendly states have done. Instead they have tried to undermine ACA at every turn, and now that the law is in effect, it's Floridians who could pay the price. Scott, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz need to stand with Floridians, not unscrupulous enterprises seeking to profit off the confusion the Republican leaders helped create.

Comments
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18