Sunday, February 25, 2018
Editorials

GOP needs an alternative to health reform

Call it Mitt's Mantra. As soon as he moves into the White House, Mitt Romney promises, he will demand that Congress repeal the health care reform law that is President Barack Obama's signature achievement. Far less clear is how Romney and Republicans in Congress would replace the Affordable Care Act. That is a critical question for Florida, which has nearly 4 million uninsured residents and has failed to develop its own solution.

Florida's hospitals were on the hook last year for $2.8 billion in uncompensated care. Tampa General Hospital spent more than $60 million on uncompensated care, while St. Petersburg's Bayfront Medical Center spent $34.7 million. Whatever one thinks of the Affordable Care Act, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will bring health coverage to 30 million people while reducing the federal deficit by $109 billion over 10 years. That's true even if some states like Florida decline to expand Medicaid to cover all adults under 133 percent of the federal poverty line. Where the law needs more work is in controlling costs, an essential ingredient in health care reform and an opportunity for Republicans to do better.

Right now there isn't a Republican leadership alternative to the health care reform law. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, an orthopedic surgeon who chairs the House Republican Policy Committee, has introduced a bill that has attracted 42 co-sponsors but little leadership support. House Speaker John Boehner last offered a package of health care reforms in November 2009. At that time, the CBO found it would have reduced health insurance premiums by 5 percent to 10 percent and extended coverage to 3 million people. That is not close to what the Affordable Care Act would achieve.

Romney has offered a rough sketch of how he would reform health care, and some of Boehner's ideas are included. He would allow individuals and small businesses to form purchasing pools and buy insurance across state lines, give individuals tax deductions for health insurance, allow health savings accounts to be used for insurance premiums, and cap noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits (something Florida already does). Most of those ideas hold promise, but they don't go far enough.

The thrust of Romney's proposal is to hand the regulation of health insurance to the states. He would cut Medicaid costs by sending block grants to the states and "limit federal standards and requirements on both private insurance and Medicaid coverage." States such as Florida could be counted on to cut Medicaid rolls and eliminate coverage requirements for private insurers.

The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it will bring health care coverage to millions of Americans. Without more specifics, it is difficult to see how Romney's plan would address the endemic problems of the uninsured and spiraling medical costs. Floridians seeking accessible, affordable health care need help from Washington, and Romney should be clearer about how he would provide it.

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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