Sunday, February 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Health care politics vs. reality

First the Republican-controlled House voted for the 40th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act in whole or part. Then as members departed for their August recess, Republicans were handed instructions for an "Obamacare media tour," a negative campaign playbook to follow in their home districts. Yet the truth is the law is already succeeding at improving health care coverage for millions of Americans, and the coming online insurance exchanges will save consumers money in many states. The situation is less certain in Florida, where consumers are paying the price for Republican attempts in Tallahassee to sabotage the law at every turn.

The fight during Congress' August recess will be a battle of stories. Democrats are highlighting how the Affordable Care Act is helping families by creating more access to coverage and better benefits. The Republican playbook recommends bashing the law by citing businesses that have had to cut jobs or limit growth. Yet the law doesn't require small businesses of under 50 employees to provide health coverage, and large businesses won't have to provide coverage until 2015.

Here is how the law is already making a difference in the Tampa Bay area:

• Because insurers may spend no more than 20 percent of premium dollars on profits and administration, insurers rebated more than 900,000 policyholders $47 million in 2011 and 2012, and this summer an additional $54 million will be returned.

• Nearly 50,000 young adults obtained health care coverage because they can now stay on their parents' policies until age 26.

• More than 77,000 seniors received savings on prescription drug costs under Medicare, totalling $100 million in discounts.

Rates for the health insurance that will be offered on the online state exchanges, a place for one-stop shopping for health insurance that will open in October for 2014 coverage, are lower than expected overall. An 11-state analysis by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released in July found that plan costs are on average 18 percent lower than Congressional Budget Office estimates.

That may not be true in Florida, where rates on the online exchange are expected to jump an average of 35 percent, according to an analysis by the state's Office of Insurance Regulation. Florida's congressional Republicans will be making a lot of noise about the price jump. But they should blame fellow party members. The Republican-controlled Legislature suspended for two years the state's ability to control rate increases for health insurance policies. It was a given that rates would soar as a result.

Now it is up to the federal government to force some of the 11 health insurers who will offer plans on Florida's online exchange to bring down premiums or be denied access to the exchange. The state declined to build its own exchange, leaving the job to the federal government. Florida's Republican leaders claim to be standing with the people on health insurance, but they have abandoned to the federal government the job of protecting the state's consumers from being gouged. It's more than a little hypocritical to undercut health care reform at every turn and then complain it isn't working as well as expected.

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Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18
Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Immigrants brought into this country illegally as children by their parents may be wondering whom to trust. The political theater being played out in Washington hasnít settled the status of either the "Dreamers" or the estimated 11 million other undo...
Published: 02/13/18
Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

While it came as little surprise, the Tampa Bay Raysí selection of an Ybor City site near Tampaís Channel District as the best spot for a new stadium is an important milestone in the effort to keep Major League Baseball. Now comes the hard work of de...
Published: 02/09/18
Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

After pummeling public education so soundly last year, itís little surprise Republican state legislators are mounting another attack on public schools, teachers and local districts. The mammoth education bill passed by the House last week is loaded w...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/13/18