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  1. Florida Politics

Gov. Rick Scott breaks with Koch brothers over health care in Florida

Published Nov. 25, 2012

Saw a headline the other day worth repeating.

Koch Brothers "Extremely Disappointed'' in Rick Scott After Obamacare Shift

By itself, the headline is not terribly gripping. It's the context that makes it interesting.

First of all, the net worth of each Koch brother is roughly equivalent to the stock portfolios of several million of your neighbors. So when Charles and David are disappointed, it's the same thing as saying Miami and Fort Lauderdale are peeved.

Beyond that, the Kochs are the omnipresent gurus of Scott's particular brand of conservatism. Think Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid, minus the car wax.

So when Scott breaks rank with Americans For Prosperity — the Koch-funded propaganda machine of the obscenely rich — it is not an insignificant matter.

And what was Scott's horribly disappointing misdeed?

He suggested he might be willing to work with the federal government when it comes to implementing the Affordable Care Act in the coming months.

That's it. He didn't say he was raising taxes. He didn't sing the praises of an individual mandate. He didn't even give the president a quick hug.

The governor simply said it might be a good idea to provide an avenue for health care for the citizens of Florida.

Now, was Scott making a sincere shift from the obstructionist policies of Koch cronies, or was it a political calculation for an unpopular governor seeking re-election?

To be honest, I don't care.

What's important is Scott finally appears willing to recognize the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. He finally seems to understand a majority of Floridians have given it their stamp of approval.

And he finally seems willing to stand up to the big-money puppet masters he has sided with time and time again.

It is that last point that is the most intriguing.

It doesn't mean Scott has to cease being a good Republican. It doesn't mean he has to give up his probusiness philosophies. What it does mean, hopefully, is he realizes he is responsible for millions of people and not just a handful of special interests.

That's important, because continuing this fight with Obamacare is asinine. And if Scott needs to explain that to the Koch family, he can start with this:

Florida has the third-highest percentage of uninsured children in the nation. That means we're doing worse than some of our poorer relations around the South. And nothing this state has done in recent years has come close to fixing that problem.

Scott may also want to quote a recent Georgetown University Health Policy Institute study. This report explains the Affordable Care Act should actually save Florida about $100 million a year because it will eliminate costly safety nets now in use.

Finally, he may want to point out that if he turns down additional Medicaid money he will potentially bankrupt hospitals that currently provide free care to the uninsured. Meanwhile, our federal tax dollars will flow to hospitals in other states.

So to recap:

Cooperating with the Affordable Care Act in Florida sounds as if it will be more compassionate, far cheaper and a better deal for hospitals in the long run.

In other words, it sounds like Scott should be proud to have disappointed a handful of billionaires.

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