Advertisement
  1. Opinion

Editorial: Hypocrisy in the House

Published May 14, 2013

Republican state lawmakers on Tuesday didn't want to talk about 1 million of the state's poor who don't have health insurance. Or about how Floridians and their health care system inevitably absorb the cost when the uninsured are in crisis. They tried to change the subject when asked at a Suncoast Tiger Bay meeting in St. Petersburg about news reports that juxtaposed Republican House members' generous taxpayer-covered health insurance with their votes to reject federal Medicaid expansion dollars to cover 1 million uninsured — and pump $51 billion into the state economy. Floridians shouldn't so easily dismiss the hypocrisy.

Tuesday was a repeat of the just-completed session, with Republican Reps. Larry Ahern of St. Petersburg and Ed Hooper of Clearwater defending the House decision by making the same specious argument that the federal government could not be counted on to actually pay for Medicaid expansion or the alternative passed by the Florida Senate and supported by Gov. Rick Scott that gave private insurance to the state's poor using the federal funds.

Ahern trumpeted a House-backed plan that would have covered only 130,000 people, with the entire $2 billion cost over 10 years borne by the state. What he didn't mention: The plan would have charged the state's poorest parents and disabled adults a $25-a-month premium, three times the $8.34 House lawmakers pay, and the state would have contributed only $2,000 toward private coverage — less than a third of the approximately $7,000 taxpayer contribution for each lawmaker's coverage.

The facts remain that by rejecting the $51 billion in federal funding over 10 years that would have flowed under the expanded Medicaid provisions of the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans put their ideology over the health of Floridians and the financial stability of the state's safety net hospitals. They also imposed unnecessary costs on Florida taxpayers, relinquished the benefits that come from returning federal taxes that Floridians pay, and forfeited the economic growth those federal dollars would spur.

Florida hospitals will be doubly hit. The number of poor, uninsured patients won't be substantially reduced, as it will in states that took the expanded Medicaid funds, but hospitals' federal funding to treat the uninsured is set to shrink by an estimated $10 million. Meanwhile state taxpayers will still be on the hook to pay $430 million a year for the Medically Needy Program, costs that the Medicaid expansion would have covered.

House Speaker Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel, who led this charge to reject Medicaid expansion, said Monday that next year the House will look to raise its health insurance premiums to levels consistent with the state Senate, which began paying the same rates as state employees in 2012 ($50 a month).

But that still won't help 1 million of the state's poor, ensure that Floridians enjoy the benefits of federal taxes they pay, or aid the state's economy.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. David Straz Jr. passed away this week. JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The retired banker will be remembered for the range of his philanthropy.
  2. Lucia Hermo, with megaphone, leads chants during a rally against HB 314, the near-total ban on abortion bill, outside of the Alabama State House on Tuesday. [Photo by Mickey Welsh of the Montgomery Advertiser via AP]
    Here’s what readers had to say in Wednesday’s letters to the editor
  3.  Bill Day -- FloridaPolitics.com
  4. Jomari DeLeon, is pictured at at Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, Florida August 7, 2019. Jomari is three years into a 15-year sentence for drug trafficking. She sold 48 tablets of prescription tablets over two days to an undercover officer. JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |  Times
    Even Oklahoma, a state not famous for progressive reform, has done more than Florida to fix sentencing inequities, Carl Hiaasen writes.
  5. In this photo from June 28, 2019, a Coalition for Life St. Louis member waves to a Planned Parenthood staff member. ROBERT COHEN  |  AP
    Florida law already requires that parents be notified prior to an abortion, writes senior policy counsel at the ACLU of Florida.
  6. Students say the Pledge of Allegiance as thousands gather at a candlelight vigil for several students killed in the Saugus High School shooting in Central Park, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Santa Clarita, Calif. CAROLYN COLE  |  AP
    We doctors treat diseases, but what of the epidemic of gun violence, writes a St. Petersburg doctor.
  7. Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association members protest outside of the school board building in Tampa in December 2017. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Here’s what readers had to say in Tuesday’s letters to the editor.
  8. Muhammad Abdur-Rahim points out the location of what is believed to be a former African-American cemetery next to the parking lot of Frank Crum Staffing located at 100 S. Missouri Ave. in Clearwater.  The empty lot is part of the former Clearwater Heights neighborhood which featured Bethany CME church and Williams Elementary School.   Photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019.  JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times
    Tampa Bay’s lost cemeteries are part of our collective history.
  9. A business man and woman holding a sign depicting their political party preference. SHARON DOMINICK  |  iStockphoto.com
    Here’s what readers had to say in Monday’s letters to the editor.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement