Tuesday, April 24, 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: 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: 8 hours 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