Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Limited Health-Care Debate

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Limited Health-Care Debate

Article excerpt

Manatee County does what state House won't consider helping the uninsured

On Thursday, the Manatee County Commission will participate in a "facilitated discussion on community health care and future programs for the uninsured and underinsured."

Yes, we recognize that description is ambiguous and falls into the category of government-speak. What's more, given the divisions on the County Commission over health-care funding and the failure of a sales-tax initiative in 2013, creating a consensus-based action plan on an impending indigent-care crisis will be a huge challenge.

Nevertheless, credit the Manatee commissioners and their staff for being willing to plan a public discussion about the significant health, social and economic problems that occur because too many residents lack access to affordable insurance.

Having a public discussion about those problems and potential ways to mitigate them is more than Steve Crisafulli, speaker of Florida's House of Representatives, is willing to do.

Crisafulli, a Republican from Merritt Island, has steadfastly refused to have an open debate in the House over whether Florida should join 28 other states -- including nine with Republican governors -- in expanding access to Medicaid for low-income residents who lack health-care insurance.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government agrees to fund all -- or nearly all -- of the cost of expanding Medicaid to include Americans who earn between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Individuals in that range earn between $11,490 and $15,856.

Try buying health-care insurance and paying for necessities with that kind of income. That financial impossibility is one of the reasons 1.1 million Floridians go without coverage -- risking their health, over-relying on emergency rooms for primary care and depending on hospitals and local governments to pay the bills. …

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