Editor's note: Newspaper editorial boards across the state have castigated the Florida House and Gov. Rick Scott for failing to expand Medicaid. Here is a sampling of some of those editorials.
Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville
Hospitals are paying millions in charity care. Employees are paying hidden taxes on their premiums of about $1,500 a year to provide that charity care. But Gov. Rick Scott — aka "Mr. Jobs" — is willing to turn down 71,000 jobs in the first three years following Medicaid expansion. He's playing politics with the state's economy. Scott — aka "Mr. Business" — is turning down the proposed Medicaid expansion plans supported by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Florida. In the first three years of Medicaid expansion, Florida could realize an $8.8 billion increase in economic activity. Why would he turn down business expansion? Politics.
Pensacola News Journal
Welcome to Florida: the mentally unstable state. This is what our battle over Medicaid expansion has become. Our governor will now spend your tax dollars in order to sue the president in opposition to an issue that he once supported. If it wasn't so stupid, wasteful and tragic, it might be funny. First of all, it should be noted that the conservative, Republican-dominated state Senate has come up with a private-sector-based plan for Medicaid expansion money. This is the Florida Senate of Don Gaetz. They're not playing by Obamacare's rules. They've made up their own rules and the federal government is poised to go along.
Your federal taxes already pay to solve that problem under the Affordable Care Act by expanding Medicaid coverage for about 800,000 uninsured people in Florida. But because the Legislature has turned away $2.8 billion a year for that purpose, your tax dollars instead care for the poor in California, New York and other states — while the cost-shifting continues in the private sector here. This situation doesn't just deny scores of low-income Florida workers a chance to get preventative care or to visit doctors' offices and urgent-care clinics instead of waiting to go to high-cost emergency rooms. Plain and simple, it is a rip-off for patients, taxpayers and employers.
Memo to Mr. Scott: The Supreme Court said that states don't have to accept Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act, but it never said rejection was a good idea. It ruled that states can opt out of the program — and the money that comes with it — leaving them to face the consequences.
Palm Beach Post
There's so much drama and ego wrapped up in this battle over federal health care funding that the point of it all seems to have been lost. Real people need health care. Employers need cost relief. Hospitals need certainty. What no one needs is pointless ego trips. Scott is looking more and more like a rebel without a cause.
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Daytona Beach News-Journal
This is pure brinkmanship by the House — staring down not only the Senate but also the Obama administration, and expecting one or both to blink. Its dangerous game of obstinacy is sowing political chaos and threatens economic harm. The cost of doing nothing: Hospitals could be forced to cut personnel and services; taxes and insurance premiums could rise to cover shortfalls at safety-net hospitals.
Our state's leadership is embroiled in a kindergarten-style fight that would be laughable if it didn't have such serious consequences. It's time to stop the political power games, suck it up and admit that — like it or not — Florida needs to accept Medicaid expansion. It's the right thing to do financially — the fiscal burden would fall overwhelmingly on the federal government. And it's the right thing to do ethically — we can prevent tremendous suffering and we should. There is no reasonable argument for what Gov. Scott and House Republicans are doing in refusing to accept Medicaid expansion. The only explanation is that they are posturing for their bases, gathering votes for future elections at the expense of the people they are supposed to be serving.