Monday, May 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Scott takes right step with Medicaid expansion

Gov. Rick Scott made the right decision by endorsing the expansion of Medicaid that would provide health care to more than 1 million uninsured Floridians, including perhaps 225,000 in Tampa Bay. Give the governor credit for looking beyond his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, negotiating with the Obama administration and making the best decision for this state. Now the Republican-led Legislature should be just as pragmatic, follow the governor's lead and approve the expansion.

The importance of accepting the Medicaid expansion cannot be understated. Florida has roughly 4 million uninsured residents who deserve access to health care, and the cost of treating them is passed on to everyone in higher insurance premiums and hospital bills. Economic studies indicate the Medicaid expansion will create more than 71,000 jobs. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of the expansion for the first three years starting in 2014, then gradually drop to 90 percent by 2020. Florida, which has one of the least generous Medicaid programs, will be one of the states that benefits the most from the expansion and infusion of billions of federal dollars.

Scott withheld his support for the expansion until the Obama administration granted the state two waivers to essentially privatize Medicaid statewide and place all recipients into managed care programs. The key conditional waiver came Wednesday afternoon, and the governor endorsed the Medicaid expansion hours later. The transformation of Medicaid will have to be carefully monitored and managed. A five-county experimental program was not encouraging, with some health plans dropping out of the experiment, patients complaining of poor service and questionable taxpayer savings. Lawmakers say they have fixed some problems, and our hope is it will work better for patients and save more money as it is rolled out statewide with millions of additional patients and many more providers. The rising cost of the existing Medicaid program is unsustainable for Florida taxpayers, and the quickly evolving health care economy is forcing changes throughout.

Now Scott has aligned himself with a half-dozen other Republican governors who have chosen pragmatism over ideological purity in accepting the Medicaid expansion. They include governors such as Jan Brewer of Arizona, John Kasich of Ohio and Susana Martinez of New Mexico. Those are hardly wild-eyed liberals. On the other side are the extremists who remain glued to the Republican fringe such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Louisana Gov. Bobby Jindal. They are not the future of the Republican Party, and Scott recognizes that Floridians expect a more commonsense approach.

There should be no gloating or partisan sniping about the governor's qualified support of Medicaid expansion from Democrats, which would be counterproductive. The goal is to get the expansion approved by the Legislature, and that will take more work by the governor and lawmakers from both parties to convince Republican leaders it is the responsible approach. House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and other Republican House leaders remain particularly skeptical, and they have to be persuaded that it would be irresponsible to leave billions of federal dollars on the table and more than a million Floridians uninsured.

Scott embraced the Medicaid expansion after getting what he wanted from Washington, and he still would require state lawmakers to reapprove the expansion after three years. Even with those caveats, the governor will take some heat from the conservative wing of his party that got him elected. But he pleased the moderate middle of the electorate he will need to get re-elected by taking the most positive, forward-looking step of his administration.

Comments
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the stateís 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondiís lawsuit against the nationís largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the stateís battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestraís violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestraís violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice theyíve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondiís lawsuit against the nationís largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the stateís battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Childrenís should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Childrenís should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Childrenís Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institutionís lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburgís 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUDís flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUDís flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18