Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Start of a healthier nation

It has been a long, bumpy road for the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature initiative to provide affordable and accessible health insurance to all, but the time for its full implementation has finally arrived. Opening Tuesday are the state online marketplaces, where the uninsured can shop for comprehensive coverage, many with generous federal subsidies. If the process is confusing, it will get easier over time and people should not lose sight of the bigger picture. The law will bring health coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, and it will raise the quality of coverage and medical security for virtually everyone.

Floridians with questions on plan specifics and rates will have their answers Tuesday when the information becomes available at the federal website healthcare.gov. In Florida, the average monthly premium for a "silver" level plan is slightly lower than the national average at $304 before any federal subsidies. That is a nice surprise after the Florida Legislature stripped authority from the state's insurance regulator to police health insurance rates for the next two years. Market competition is working. Unlike some other states where few insurers are in the marketplace, many Floridians will be able to choose from about 100 health plans, nearly twice the national average.

As with any major government program, it will take time for the kinks to be worked out. Signing up for Medicare Part D's drug coverage was also complex. This should have been easier. But Florida left it to the federal government to build its state exchange, resulting in information delays. There also may be fewer navigators — sign-up helpers — available in less convenient locations in Florida because of the roadblocks the state put in place.

The law's opponents have launched a corrosive ad campaign to convince young adults not to sign up for health coverage. Their advice promotes irresponsibility and free-rider behavior — exactly what conservatives claim to stand against. Young adults without insurance will still receive health care after a car accident or sudden illness. But the cost of that care will be shifted to the insured and taxpayers. Going without insurance and paying the modest annual tax penalty makes it less likely that young people will see a doctor regularly to get preventive care or catch a serious health problem early.

Tuesday should be a celebratory day in Florida with so many of the state's 3.8 million uninsured finally able to sign up for comprehensive, affordable coverage that would kick in next year. There will be rough spots, but it will be worth the trouble. Americans will no longer be shackled to their jobs for the health insurance, and this could unleash new entrepreneurial vigor into the economy. America also is a more compassionate nation, where more families will have access to regular medical care and people will no longer have to worry that bankruptcy looms if they get sick. That alone is transformational change for the better.

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Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
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...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

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