Saturday, December 16, 2017
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: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17