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  1. Opinion

Editorial: Tell the Legislature's Immoral Minority to expand Medicaid in Florida

Published Dec. 15, 2015

Most Floridians want it. So do thousands of businesses and the medical community. So do Republicans and Democrats in the Florida Senate. Yet 80 Florida House Republicans are denying 800,000 Floridians access to health care by refusing to accept Medicaid expansion money from Washington. It is immoral, and it is financially irresponsible. Of those 80 House Republicans, 13 represent Tampa Bay districts. Call them. Email them. Ask them why they are blocking health insurance for your families, friends and co-workers.

RICHARD CORCORAN, Land O'Lakes: (850) 717-5037, richard.corcoran@myfloridahouse.gov — Corcoran is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the expected House speaker for 2016-18 and the chief obstructionist.

DANA YOUNG, Tampa: (850) 717-5060, dana.young@myfloridahouse.gov — Young is the House majority leader who helps prevent Republicans from voting their conscience on Medicaid expansion.

BLAISE INGOGLIA, Spring Hill: (850) 717-5035, blaise.ingoglia@myfloridahouse.gov — Ingoglia has an inherent conflict of interest as both the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and a state legislator serving all of his Hernando County constituents.

LARRY AHERN, Seminole: (850) 717-5066, larry.ahern@myfloridahouse.gov

CHRIS LATVALA, Clearwater: (850) 717-5067, chris.latvala@myfloridahouse.gov

KATHLEEN PETERS, South Pasadena: (850) 717-5069, kathleen.peters@myfloridahouse.gov

CHRIS SPROWLS, Palm Harbor: (850) 717-5065, chris.sprowls@myfloridahouse.gov

DANNY BURGESS JR., San Antonio: (850) 717-5038, danny.burgess@myfloridahouse.gov

SHAWN HARRISON, Tampa: (850) 717-5063, shawn.harrison@myfloridahouse.gov

JAKE RABURN, Lithia: (850) 717-5057, jake.raburn@myfloridahouse.gov

DAN RAULERSON, Plant City: (850) 717-5058, dan.raulerson@myfloridahouse.gov

ROSS SPANO, Dover: (850) 717-5059, ross.spano@myfloridahouse.gov

JIMMIE T. SMITH, Inverness: (850) 717-5034, jimmie.smith@myfloridahouse.gov

This may be the last, best chance for the Florida Legislature to accept billions in federal Medicaid money and create health coverage for low-income residents. The Senate has crafted a responsible bipartisan plan to use the federal money to subsidize private health insurance, and House Republicans should embrace it and stop being obstructionists.

The economic case for accepting the federal money and expanding access to health care is persuasive. It would bring tens of billions from Washington to Florida. It would save the state more than $1.7 billion over five years by replacing existing health care programs. It would help residents paying higher private insurance premiums to subsidize the cost of charity care.

The cost of rejecting the Senate plan? Federal tax dollars from Florida help pay for Medicaid expansion in 28 other states. The Low Income Pool that helps cover the cost of treating the uninsured will lose more than $1 billion in federal money. Florida hospitals and taxpayers cannot afford to make that up.

The moral argument for taking the Medicaid expansion money is also compelling. Low-income Floridians should not be deprived of health insurance because House Republicans can't stand President Barack Obama and distrust Washington. House Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, is prepared to go to war with the Senate and block its practical plan. Senate Republicans and Democrats better reflect the sensibilities of most Floridians, and they should not bend to such pinched thinking.

House Republicans from Tampa Bay should hear the commonsense voices in their communities. Tell them you want all Floridians to have health insurance and access to care. Ask them why they will not bring home federal tax dollars you send to Washington. And remind them to act in the best interests of all of their constituents.

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