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A Times Editorial

GOP politics trumps policy

The Republican legislative caucus that approved an insurance plan in 2008 that has failed to cover a single Floridian now has another health care plan that is more politics than policy. Sen. Carey Baker of Eustis and Rep. Scott Plakon of Longwood are pushing a state constitutional amendment aimed at exempting Floridians and their employers from any potential federal mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance.

Talk about a sideshow. Legal experts are nearly unanimous such action would ultimately fail federal constitutional muster. But that hasn't stopped Baker, a candidate for agriculture commissioner, and Plakon from grabbing headlines with their partisan proposal, just like lawmakers in a dozen other states have.

One in four Floridians under 65 doesn't have health insurance — the second worst uninsured rate in the nation. Yet the Legislature has yet to respond to the crisis in a meaningful way.

Last year's solution was to create Florida Health Choices Corp. to help small businesses buy employee coverage. Enrollees to date: zero. And Gov. Charlie Crist's Cover Florida program claims more than 4,000 enrollees since February — a pittance compared to the 77,000 Floridians who are estimated to have lost insurance in the same period.

It would be far more helpful if Baker, Plakon and fellow co-sponsors — including Tampa Bay area Reps. Kevin Ambler, Ed Hooper, Peter Nehr and Sen. Mike Fasano — were more interested in health care solutions than in partisan gamesmanship. Floridians deserve more from their ruling political party.

GOP politics trumps policy 10/24/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 24, 2009 4:31am]
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