Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Anti-Medicaid Dogma

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Anti-Medicaid Dogma

Article excerpt

Scott focuses on costs and disregards benefits of coverage

If you were governor of a state where almost one-fourth of your residents have no health care insurance, compassion might cause you to give thoughtful consideration to a federal program designed to help those residents.

You might also want to think carefully about the potential economic benefits that could accrue to your state by an expansion of the health care industry.

But then, you would not be Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

A mere four days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal Affordable Care Act is constitutional, Scott issued a statement declaring that he will not implement two key provisions in the law.

Those provisions would: 1. Expand the Medicaid program to include families earning 133 percent of the federal poverty level (about $30,000 a year for a family of four) and 2. Allow each state to set up "health care exchanges" through which individuals and small businesses could shop for affordable insurance plans.

The Supreme Court ruling, issued Thursday, said states could not be penalized for refusing to expand Medicaid. The law itself gave states the option of setting up exchanges or letting the federal government do it.

Automatic ideology

Scott's announcement came as no surprise. As early as Friday, when asked on a Jacksonville radio station about Medicaid expansion, he said, "We can't afford it."

That dogmatic reply -- with no thought of consulting the Legislature, no recognition of the potential benefits to the uninsured or the state economy, no willingness to consider whether new revenue could be raised without hurting the economic recovery, no engagement of the citizenry -- fits perfectly with Scott's automatic anti-tax ideology.

Perhaps Florida could afford Medicaid expansion if Scott, like many other governors, took the time to consider his options. And he and Florida had plenty of time to think: Under the ACA, the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion for the first three years. …

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