Sunday, February 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Weatherford keeps 150,000 in bay area from getting health coverage

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is responsible for more than 150,000 of the poorest residents in Tampa Bay being cruelly excluded from health care coverage. While most of the region's uninsured are now mulling over their multiple options for health insurance coverage on the state online marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, Weatherford's indefensible rejection of Medicaid expansion means the state's poor are out of luck. This gap in coverage is really a gap in compassion.

The health care reform law was designed to provide access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage to nearly everyone. The uninsured would shop for policies on the online marketplaces, which opened Oct. 1. People making between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level would receive subsidies to help pay for coverage. Those making below the federal poverty line would be covered by the expansion of Medicaid, a federal-state program of health insurance for the poor.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the Affordable Care Act but allowed states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. Florida and 25 other states, largely in the South and with Republican governors or Republican-controlled legislatures, declined to expand Medicaid. It was a heartless attack on 8 million of the nation's poor who are now stranded without coverage. They won't qualify for subsidized insurance on the marketplaces because they earn too little. The irony is that these states make up about half of the U.S. population but have two-thirds of the country's poor. It is their residents who would have benefited the most.

When the numbers are crunched, expanding Medicaid brings a financial windfall. The federal government picks up 100 percent of the cost for the first three years and no less than 90 percent in later years. Florida would have received $51 billion in federal funds over 10 years, a figure that got the attention of Gov. Rick Scott and Senate President Don Gaetz, both Republicans, who would have taken Medicaid expansion dollars. But Weatherford, a Republican from Wesley Chapel, refused to let the House even consider a bill passed 38-1 by the Senate to use the Medicaid money to help buy private insurance for the poor.

His decision leaves a million Floridians without Medicaid coverage. A New York Times analysis finds that among those falling through the Medicaid gap are 52,018 adults in Pinellas, 59,295 in Hillsborough, 29,367 in Pasco and 10,113 in Hernando counties. That's more than 150,000 people in the Tampa Bay area who would have coverage if Weatherford was not standing in the way. They earn paychecks that just aren't big enough to cross the federal poverty line. They are cashiers, restaurant staff, retail clerks, home health aides and cleaners. Florida is awash in these kinds of low-wage jobs. The people who do them work hard and have little to show for it. Now Weatherford's stubborn opposition to Medicaid expansion robs them of the medical security the law was designed to bring to all families. Florida is a smarter, more compassionate state than that.

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Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the stateís safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last weekís massacre ...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Associationís solid w...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nationís conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places ó South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington ó as survivors, victimsí families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasnít enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldnít take months or another tragedy for Florida ó which is hot and full of seniors ó to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. Thatís why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18