Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Subsidies essential to health care reform

How the conflict over two federal appellate court rulings is resolved could determine the future of health care reform in Florida and the nation. The separate rulings issued Tuesday are divided over the legality of subsidies that help Floridians and residents in 35 other states buy health insurance on the federal exchange. It defies logic that Congress intended only to provide the premium subsidies in states that created their own marketplaces, and the courts should keep them in place.

The clear intent of the Affordable Care Act is to extend health insurance to as many Americans as possible. That requires affordable premiums, regardless of whether the coverage is obtained through the federal exchange or a state-run exchange. Yet two conservative judges on a three-judge federal appeals court panel in Washington concluded Tuesday that the federal law only allows the subsidies to be offered in states with their own exchanges. They focus on one poorly worded provision in the complicated law and ignore its overall intent, rejecting the government's argument that their narrow reading would produce absurd results.

As if on cue, another federal appeals court panel in Virginia unanimously agreed that the tax credits that subsidize the purchase of health insurance are legal regardless of which exchange is used. "It is clear that widely available tax credits are essential to fulfilling the Act's primary goals and that Congress was aware of their importance when drafting the bill,'' Judge Roger Gregory wrote.

In an ideal world, there would be no issue about whether health coverage was bought through a state exchange or the federal one. But Florida Republicans and conservatives in other states fought the Obama administration at every turn and refused to create state exchanges. That forced 5.4 million Americans to obtain coverage through the federal exchange, and the vast majority qualified for subsidies.

Despite website issues, constant political attacks and now a shortage of doctors in some limited plans, health care reform is working. More than 983,000 Floridians signed up for health coverage through the federal exchange, and more than 9 of 10 of them received a subsidy. Yet opponents who have failed to persuade Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act continue to fight various provisions in the courts. If the full appeals court panels examine fairly the intent of the Affordable Care Act, they will conclude the subsidies are legal and this issue will never reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Comments
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
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