1. Florida Politics

Romano: On Medicaid, Arizona gives Florida heartburn

Published Jun. 16, 2013

A (fake) conversation Friday morning at the governor's office in Tallahassee:

Aide: Sir, we have a bit of a problem.

Gov. Scott: Just tell Lt. Gov. Carroll the letter of recommendation is in the mail.

Aide: No sir, this is something else.

Gov. Scott: (Sighs.)

Aide: It seems the Arizona Legislature approved Medicaid expansion on Thursday.

Gov. Scott: That's it? That's today's crisis? How can that possibly be my problem?

Aide: Well, people may point out that Arizona's situation is quite similar to what we have in Florida. And I'm afraid they might start asking how Arizona figured out a way to provide health care when Florida did not.

Gov. Scott: Simple. Our state House is full of heartless ideologues. Not my problem.

Aide: Yes, sir, except the Arizona Legislature was also ideologically opposed to the idea.

Gov. Scott: So what happened?

Aide: From what we're hearing, Gov. Jan Brewer is being hailed as a leader for defying the tea party and persuading fellow Republicans to change their minds. The national media keeps mentioning that you and Gov. Brewer were once the loudest critics of the Affordable Care Act.

Gov. Scott: (Indistinct muttering.)

Aide: Beg your pardon, sir?

Gov. Scott: (Shouting) How? How did she do it?

Aide: It appears she used her clout.

Gov. Scott: And what's that supposed to mean?

Aide: No offense, sir, but she got in front of the issue. She traveled the state campaigning for Medicaid expansion, and put together a coalition of business groups and medical professionals in favor of it. Basically, she put pressure on the Legislature.

Gov. Scott: Ha! The Chamber of Commerce and Florida Hospital Association were in favor of it here, and that didn't persuade the House.

Aide: Didn't persuade them in Arizona, either. So Gov. Brewer vowed to veto any legislation that came across her desk until the Legislature fixed health care.

Gov. Scott: (Begins rubbing his eyes.)

Aide: Yes, sir, she came out looking quite heroic.

Gov. Scott: Well, our legislative session has been over for more than a month. This is spilled milk. We just say it's the House speaker's fault, and there's nothing we can do about it at this point.

Aide: Actually, sir, the Arizona Legislature was also adjourned. Gov. Brewer called them in for a special session.

Gov. Scott: Fantastic … so what am I supposed to do now?

Aide: Not to be flippant, sir, but perhaps we could fix this?

Gov. Scott: A conservative governor with a Republican Legislature going overtime to fight for a key component of Obamacare?

Aide: It sounds crazy, I know, but it did work in Arizona. And the Republican governor in Michigan is still putting pressure on his Legislature to accept federal money.

Gov. Scott: Are you suggesting it's going to be my fault if there are 1 million uninsured Floridians next year?

Aide: I wouldn't exactly say it's your fault.

Gov. Scott: What would you say?

Aide: Well, some might argue, as governor, it is your responsibility.

Gov. Scott: I'm starting to feel queasy.

Aide: Not to worry, sir, you have excellent health insurance.