Saturday, October 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Math for accepting Medicaid only gets better

As the economy struggled, Florida deeply cut spending on public schools, higher education, land preservation, the courts and every other corner of discretionary spending. Now the state could save $430 million spent on a state health care program if legislators would agree to accept billions of federal dollars and expand Medicaid. But even those savings, which could be spent on other priorities, may not sway House Speaker Will Weatherford and other Republicans who refuse to accept federal Medicaid expansion money.

This latest wrinkle in the debate over whether Florida should expand Medicaid to adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line adds to a powerful argument that Republican lawmakers refuse to consider. Florida spends $430 million annually in its Medically Needy program that helps low-income patients pay for expensive medical conditions. The state covers 42 percent of the cost for the program. But under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would take responsibility for 100 percent of the costs of covering this population for the first three years and no less than 90 percent in later years.

State budget analysts didn't include the $430 million annual savings in their calculations because the impact of the Affordable Care Act was unclear. Since then, federal officials have confirmed that the patients under Florida's Medically Needy program would be eligible for coverage under Medicaid expansion and the generous level of federal funding.

Still, Weatherford and other Republican leaders haven't budged. The Wesley Chapel Republican continues to support a plan authored by Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, that provides insufficient payments for a modest portion of poor adults to buy private health coverage. Florida Health Choices Plus would be paid for with state taxpayer dollars at an estimated cost of $237 million per year. The plan forgoes $51 billion in federal funding over 10 years that flows with Medicaid expansion, leaves hundreds of thousands of poor Floridians without health coverage and forces Florida taxpayers to continue paying $430 million annually for the state's Medically Needy program. The math does not add up.

Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, argues that the federal government cannot be trusted to hold up its part of the deal in the long run. But Floridians expect Washington to follow federal law and meet its commitments, just as it has on Social Security and Medicare. State taxpayers shouldn't have to watch the money they send to Washington go to other states to expand their medical safety nets and boost their economies.

Republicans in the state Senate and Gov. Rick Scott, while no fans of federal health care reform, have been willing to put their political differences aside to stand for what is best for the state. Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, is proposing a reasonable alternative to Medicaid expansion that would use the federal funding to pay for private insurance for the poor. There were plenty of good reasons to support Negron's option before the Medically Needy savings were discovered. Now there are 430 million reasons more next year, and another 430 million a year after that, and another 430 million a year after that, and …

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Editorial notebook: Times editorial writers reminisce about Sears

Editorial notebook: Times editorial writers reminisce about Sears

Sharing memories of the “wish book,” shopping on Saturday nights and many memorable purchases
Published: 10/19/18

Editorial: FBI should take a hard look at CareerSource

The scrutiny now extends to the state agency that oversees the local jobs centers
Published: 10/19/18
Editorial: Toughen Florida’s building code

Editorial: Toughen Florida’s building code

Experts are right that Hurricane Michael should force a review of Florida’s building standards. While newer homes generally fared better than older ones, the state needs to reassess the risks posed by high winds and storm surge.
Published: 10/19/18
Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

You wouldn't skip a trip to the gas pump, would you?Then don't miss the chance to cast your general election ballot, either, when Hillsborough County opens its many early voting sites Monday morning for a two-week engagement.If you do your homework a...
Published: 10/19/18

Editorial: Glazer Children’s Museum quickly regained its step

Jennifer Stancil was terminated from her $169,280 a year job last month as museum president and chief executive, a post she held for three years. Exactly why remained a mystery to those outside the museum.
Published: 10/18/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Twenty-seven journalists have been murdered so far this year just for doing their jobs, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That number doesn’t even include Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident journalist who hasn’t been ...
Published: 10/17/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

The Florida Supreme Court reached the right conclusion by ruling that the next governor has the authority to appoint three new justices to the court rather than departing Gov. Rick Scott. That is practical and reasonable, and it reflects the will of ...
Published: 10/16/18
Updated: 10/19/18

Editorial: Housecleaning was necessary at Clearwater parks department

The theft of money and a hostile atmosphere show a city department out of control
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/19/18
Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis wants voters to believe he is different than his Republican colleagues in Congress and President Donald Trump. The Palm Harbor Republican says he pays more attention to local issues than to the president, claims he doesnȁ...
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/16/18
Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

The Hillsborough County school tax on the Nov. 6 ballot is a smart, necessary investment in the nation's eighth-largest school system. The 10-year, half-penny sales tax would create stronger, safer schools and a healthier learning environment for mor...
Published: 10/12/18
Updated: 10/19/18