Saturday, November 25, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Tallahassee stubbornness keeps 800,000 uninsured

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Don't be fooled by Florida Republican legislators who defend their refusal to accept Medicaid expansion money as a responsible conservative position and criticize the Obama administration for being inflexible. Another conservative Republican governor, Mike Pence of Indiana, proposed last week that his state use the federal money to help provide insurance for low-income Hoosiers. It's not conservative values or rigid Washington depriving poor Floridians of health coverage; it's political stubbornness and insensitivity in Tallahassee.

Pence was one of the most conservative members of the U.S. House before being elected governor of Indiana in 2012. He vigorously opposed the Affordable Care Act in Congress. And like Florida, Indiana declined to create its own online marketplace for private health insurance and forced its residents to use the federal exchange. Yet Pence has seen the light and proposes using the federal Medicaid money to help 350,000 low-income adults get health insurance through an existing state program. Indiana would require small contributions to monthly premiums, depending on income. The federal money would cover most of the cost, and the state eventually would pay for its share of the expanded program with an existing cigarette tax and hospital fee. There are issues to be resolved, but the Indiana governor has a workable framework and the Obama administration appears receptive.

Compare the conservative pragmatism in Indiana to the misguided ideological purity in Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott fails to lead and the Legislature refuses to act. Scott has been silent on accepting $51 billion in Medicaid expansion money since embracing it more than a year ago. The Legislature failed to hold a single hearing on the issue this year, as unrepentant House Speaker Will Weatherford refused to consider viable alternatives. The result is that more than 800,000 uninsured Floridians earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to qualify for federal subsidies to help buy insurance in the federal marketplace.

Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, complain that the Obama administration is too inflexible. That argument is not grounded in reality. The Department of Health and Human Services has approved a plan similar to the Indiana proposal for Michigan and a private coverage alternative for Arkansas. The Republican governors in Pennsylvania and Iowa are also floating proposals to accept Medicaid expansion money. It's the Florida Legislature that has proven to be unimaginative and inflexible, not Washington.

The thirst for health care coverage in Florida is obvious. More than 983,000 Floridians signed up for coverage on the federal marketplace, twice as many as expected and more than any other state using the federal website, healthcare.gov. Another 180,000 Floridians discovered they are eligible for Medicaid now. Yet the governor and the Legislature refuse to accept billions in federal Medicaid money to extend coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Floridians. That is morally and economically indefensible.

Fortunately, there is an election in November. That will be the best opportunity for voters to hold the governor and state lawmakers accountable for failing to act in the best interests of the state and its residents. If Indiana can find a way to accept Medicaid expansion money to provide health insurance for its low-income residents, so can Florida.

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Editorial: Strengthening the ties that bind in Seminole Heights following 4 killings

During this weekend of giving thanks, let’s recognize the Seminole Heights community for remaining united and committed to their neighborhood as residents cope with the stress and fear following a series of murders. Their response as police continue ...
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Editorial: St. Petersburg should revisit approach to historic preservation

St. Petersburg is headed down a slippery path in the name of historic preservation. After a group of 10 property owners in the Old Northeast neighborhood won approval earlier this year to become a one-block historic district, two more groups of neigh...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/24/17

Editorial: Senate should not repeal health insurance mandate to pay for tax cuts

There are all sorts of problems with the massive tax cut legislation the Senate is expected to vote on this week. Wealthy individuals and corporations benefit more than the poor and the middle class; by 2027, about half of all taxpayers would see a t...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should help Florida agriculture recover from Irma

Editorial: Congress should help Florida agriculture recover from Irma

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Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Ken Hagan should drop effort to recover attorney’s fees in ethics complaint

Editorial: Ken Hagan should drop effort to recover attorney’s fees in ethics complaint

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan says he’s standing on principle in his effort to collect $7,800 spent defending him against ethics charges that eventually were dismissed.If so, it’s the wrong principle. But Hagan’s strident position rings ...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/24/17

Another voice: Wall isn’t a lifesaver, it’s a boondoggle

The first stage of President Donald Trump’s controversial border wall project ended last week, while the prospects for any more construction — and even what type of wall — remain uncertain.A Border Patrol agent was killed and his partner seriously wo...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17

Another voice: Time for Republicans to denounce this tax nonsense

Mick Mulvaney, the phony deficit hawk President Donald Trump tapped to oversee the nation’s budget, all but admitted on Sunday that the GOP tax plan currently before the Senate is built on fiction. Senators from whom the public should expect more — s...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nation’s highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: Trump does the right thing for elephants; he shouldn’t back down now

There is bad timing, and then there is this. Last week, an apparent military coup placed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in custody, ushering in a new period of political uncertainty. A few days later, the Trump administration announced that Zimba...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/22/17