Friday, January 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Hiccups and progress on health law

After the Obama administration announced last week that small business access to the online health insurance marketplaces has been delayed for a year, there finally is a bit of good news on health care reform. Most people seem to be successfully navigating healthcare.gov to shop for health coverage, though finalizing the insurance sign-up process is still not working as intended. While many aspects of the Affordable Care Act already are benefiting families, the administration has to remain focused on continuing to improve the website and resell it to the American people who have lost confidence in the president and his signature achievement.

The Obama administration says it has made good on a promise to fix the website by the end of November for the vast majority of users. The focus has been to address the frustrating experience of consumers who were greeted with locked screens and Web pages that refused to load. But left to be fixed are the back-end systems that are supposed to provide insurance companies with consumer information. Until that is cleaned up, consumers might not be certain that their enrollment is complete.

Meanwhile, the administration handed small businesses disappointing news. Those with up to 50 employees had been promised the convenience of buying health insurance on the federal online marketplaces. Now that won't be happening until November 2014 for coverage that takes effect in January 2015. Small business employers will still have access to the same insurance policies at the same rates as would have been available online. They will just have to use insurance agents or brokers, as many already do, to purchase their preferred plans.

Despite the website problems, other aspects of the law remain in effect. For instance, small businesses will still be able to enjoy substantial federal tax credits of up to 50 percent of premium costs if they have fewer than 25 full-time employees and meet other criteria. Available policies will offer comprehensive insurance, not the illusion of insurance. And insurers will have to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on the provision of care rather than marketing, profits and executive salaries, or the businesses will receive a rebate.

While the latest delay is embarrassing and politically damaging for Obama, it is not as significant as the one-year delay in requiring large employers to provide health insurance to their employees or pay a penalty. Small businesses with under 50 employees that fail to provide coverage face no penalties.

The administration's priority has been to fix the online marketplaces for consumers. It is no surprise that other parts of the law had to fall by the wayside for now. But this is the second delay in implementing an aspect of small business coverage. In April, the requirement that the small business exchange offers competing insurance plans to employees was delayed until 2015. These hiccups show that administration failed to prepare adequately to implement the law, not that a law to provide Americans with medical security is a mistake.

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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...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
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...
Updated: 3 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

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18