Friday, June 22, 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 …

Comments
Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18