Sunday, June 17, 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: 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
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

This fall voters will have 13 constitutional amendments to wade through on the ballot, but Amendment 4 should get special focus. It represents a rare opportunity to rectify a grievous provision in the Florida Constitution, which permanently revokes t...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

The Trump administration just can’t stop sabotaging Americans’ access to health care. Instead of giving up after it failed to persuade Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it continues to quietly undermine the law in ways that would reduce acc...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Parkland students set example for advocacy

Music is healing. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School put that theory on display Sunday night in New York with their stirring performance at the Tony Awards — beautifully.The students, all from the school’s drama department, bro...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18