Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Health care landmark

Finally there is a moment to celebrate and embrace rather than defend and avoid. More than 7 million Americans signed up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, meeting the original goal and deserving of President Barack Obama's celebration Tuesday in the White House Rose Garden. The surge in signups for coverage despite computer issues and relentless partisan attacks is a significant accomplishment and reflects the enormous demand for affordable, accessible health insurance.

Meeting the target of 7 million enrolling in health coverage does not excuse the Obama administration's failure to roll out a workable website when the signup period began last fall. Imagine how many families would have signed up if the federal healthcare.gov website and all of the state exchanges had worked smoothly from the start. Imagine if the process had been as easy as buying a book or a song online. Imagine if there had been a unified national effort to sell the benefits of the health care law rather than all of the Republican attempts to kill it.

The number of people who get health coverage should rise even higher. While Monday was the deadline to sign up through the exchanges, there is a grace period for those who started to sign up but did not get finished because of computer issues or other problems. Others can seek a special enrollment period if they have been seriously ill, or if there were mistakes made by those helping them sign up or by insurance companies. While Tuesday was a day to celebrate, the real success of the first enrollment period won't become clear until there is more information about the ages and health of those who signed up, how many were previously uninsured and how many start paying their insurance premiums.

In Florida, more than 442,000 residents signed up for health coverage through the federal exchange by March 1, and nine out of 10 qualified for some help in paying their premiums. The final number should be significantly higher, thanks to remarkable efforts in recent days to sign up residents in Tampa, St. Petersburg and elsewhere. Florida has been meeting its goal for signups, with more residents signing up for coverage than any other state using the federal exchange besides Texas.

That success is tempered by the Florida Legislature's unconscionable refusal to accept $51 billion in federal money over the next decade to expand Medicaid to cover more than 1 million uninsured poor Floridians. The result is more than 150,000 adults in Tampa Bay make too much to qualify for Medicaid now but not enough to qualify for federal subsidies that would help them buy insurance on the federal exchange. House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, blocked the expansion last year, and a Senate bill to approve the Medicaid expansion has not even received a committee hearing this year. Health care reform is moving forward, and Tallahassee cannot remain in denial forever.

Tuesday was a day to mark a significant achievement in extending health care to more Floridians, but there is much more work to be done.

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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...
Updated: 9 hours ago

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 ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
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...
Updated: 11 hours ago
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