Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Editorial: Will Tampa Bay Republicans stand for Floridians on


Two Pasco County Republicans, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Rep. Richard Corcoran, are expected to ram through the House their health care proposal today that would cover too few, cost too much and offer false hope to the uninsured. Other Tampa Bay Republicans should stand up to their leaders and demand better for their constituents. • Gov. Rick Scott supports accepting $51 billion in federal money to expand Medicaid to cover nearly 1 million uninsured Floridians. He is open to a reasonable alternative proposed by Sen. Joe Negron, which would use the federal money to provide subsidies to help those same Floridians buy private insurance. Yet Weatherford and Corcoran refuse to accept the Medicaid money and stand against the Republican governor, probably the majority of the Legislature, a clear majority of Florida voters, local hospitals, the health care industry, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida. More reasonable House Republicans should not let them get away with stalling and hiding behind their inadequate proposal that is going nowhere.

The House bill is morally and financially indefensible. It rejects billions in federal dollars and would cost taxpayers $2 billion in state dollars over 10 years. It would force the state to keep paying $430 million a year for the Medically Needy Program, costs that the Medicaid expansion would cover. And it ignores that Floridians pay federal taxes and are not getting their fair share of federal money flowing back to the state.

The House legislation ultimately would provide coverage to only 130,000 low-income, uninsured Floridians by giving them $2,000 each to buy private coverage in some fantasy new market. Weatherford and Corcoran inflate the projections by saying another 400,000 could use federal subsidies to buy private insurance, but many of those residents still would find that coverage inadequate and unaffordable. The unwillingness by Weatherford, Corcoran and their allies to provide health coverage to low-income childless adults — who would be covered by the Medicaid expansion — is particularly cold-hearted. Their message to those Floridians: Work harder and get a better job.

There are conservative House Republicans who are more pragmatic and enlightened. Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, supports accepting the federal Medicaid money. He fought the good fight Thursday as he questioned the Weatherford/Corcoran legislation and pushed the Negron plan to no avail. Other Tampa Bay Republicans should also insist on better.

What about Rep. Ed Hooper of Clearwater, who plans to run for the Pinellas County Commission next year and appeal to centrist voters?

What about Rep. Kathleen Peters, the former South Pasadena mayor who has a solid record of working on behalf of low-income residents?

What about Rep. James Grant of Tampa, whose constituents in Northdale and Oldsmar would be particularly helped by the Medicaid expansion?

What about Rep. Ross Spano of Dover, who represents the working-class neighborhoods of Riverview, Palm River and Valrico?

What about Rep. Rob Schenck of Spring Hill or Rep. Jimmie Smith of Inverness?

There is a week left in the legislative session, and today's House vote is only the beginning of the final maneuvering over the single biggest issue facing Florida. Weatherford appears to be willing to run out the clock and do nothing rather than accept the federal money and cover 1 million uninsured Floridians.

Are Tampa Bay Republicans going to let him get away with it?

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Editorial: Progress on Tampa Bay graduation rates

Tampa Bay’s four school districts all reached a significant milestone last school year: achieving graduation rates over 80 percent. It’s believed to be the first time Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties all surpassed that threshold, a...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Take deal; build wall

President Donald Trump says he is optimistic a deal can be struck to shield "Dreamers," the young undocumented immigrants whose lives he put in jeopardy by stripping them of work permits and deportation protection, beginning March 5. His price, and t...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/11/18