Florida Republicans eyeing federal health care handout after all 

Low Income Pool gives conservatives another chance to circumvent Obamacare

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JUST THE STATS

 

763,890

NUMBER OF POOR FLORIDIANS FALLING INTO THE COVERAGE GAP BETWEEN MEDICAID AND THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT; 5.2 MILLION PEOPLE ARE IN THE GAP NATIONALLY

 

$51 BILLION

AMOUNT THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE REJECTED IN FEDERAL FUNDS OVER 10 YEARS TO EXPAND THE STATE’S MEDICAID PROGRAM TO ASSIST THOSE PEOPLE; THE STATE WOULD HAVE HAD TO PAY JUST $3.5 BILLION FOR THE EXPANSION

 

$3 BILLION

ANNUAL AMOUNT THE STATE LEGISLATURE WILL CONSIDER REQUESTING FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WHEN IT APPLIES FOR RENEWAL OF THE STATE’S LOW INCOME POOL PROGRAM, WHICH SUPPLEMENTS MEDICAID FOR THE POOR. THE LIP PROGRAM IS CURRENTLY FUNDED $1 BILLION ANNUALLY

 

“WHILE OPPONENTS WOULD LOVE TO WATER DOWN THE HOUSE’S OPPOSITION TO MEDICAID EXPANSION TO A SINGLE SOUND BITE, IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE. WE WILL EVALUATE THESE DECISIONS BASED ON THE LONG-TERM PHYSICAL AND FISCAL WELL-BEING OF FLORIDA.”
– FLORIDA REP. MATT HUDSON, CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE’S HEALTH CARE BUDGET COMMITTEE
Sources: Tampa Bay Times, Orlando Sentinel, Kaiser Family Foundation

 

 

SIX OF ONE

We’ve all seen what happens when you toss scalding teabags onto an explosive political grudge match, and, frankly, there aren’t enough bottles of sweet schadenfreude in the world to make this month’s debt-ceiling debate and its resulting Republican schism even worth the trouble of enduring the incessant media usage of the term “brinksmanship.” We get it! Grown-up assholes suicide-tied to half-baked ideologies are not here to make government work; they’re here to end government.

That sentiment is especially comforting when echoed by our own governor, who hopped from blaming the president for the impasse to some vague populist back-patting with his Tea Party brethren, when all was said and done. Though Gov. Rick Scott refused to specifically jump on the “kill Obamacare” bandwagon that set the pace for the government shutdown – because he was against health care reform, then slightly for it; now, whatever – he did shout rebellion at the sky.

“Washington’s failure to reach a long-term agreement on the debt ceiling confirms our nation’s leaders have their heads in the sand about our economic future,” Scott said in a statement. Ostriches! All of ’em.

Anyway, it’s those overlooked technicalities and refractions of light from bent Republican reasoning that may have Florida once again in a tail-chase of health care hypocrisy. Earlier this year during the legislative session, things got a little uneven when the Senate – in a desperate conservative attempt to avoid looking like it was siding with President Obama and the health legislation he rode in on – drafted a scheme to accept $51 billion in federal funds without admitting that this was akin to expanding Medicaid (it would have been). Even Gov. Scott, citing the death of his mother while not shedding any tears at a press conference, relented and said he would support the expansion outright, but only for a few years. The House stuck to its guns and shot the whole thing down, alas, leaving the state in a lurch: Nearly 764,000 Floridians would remain uninsured because they don’t qualify for Medicaid; the state’s emergency rooms would remain the only inefficient means of dealing with the problem. That’ll teach everyone to try to make things better!

But next month, the state (and its Republican leadership) plan to put their hands out to the feds in order to address the problem their own obstinacy created. The state already has a federally funded Low Income Pool program, and receives about $1.4 billion a year in supplemental Medicaid monies that are basically a Band-Aid for a broken system. Last month, deputy secretary for Medicaid at the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration Justin Senior started making noise that we should up our request to $3 billion a year (California gets $5 billion; Texas gets $7.5 billion). Now the issue goes to House committee members, who will be in charge of allocating the federal dollars, should they be received.

So, whereas we stood to gain $5 billion a year for the Medicaid expansion that has made the ACA relatively successful already in more humane states, now we are clandestinely requesting $3 billion a year to do effectively the same thing.

Well, as long as nobody’s pride got hurt. Pass the tea.

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