Sometimes you just have to crouch in a bathroom stall after saying something embarrassing at a (or to a) party: You hastily text for an exit route to a runaway car, await a friend with a head-shielding gunnysack and sneak out the door as if that brain-vomit never happened. One thing you don't usually do, though, is go on a media tour and repeat what you said with varying takes on what it was you meant to say, falsified numbers included. That is, unless, you are Florida's increasingly rash Gov. Rick Scott.
Scott took a stuttering stumble following the June 28 U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act. There were varying shades of ambivalence in the succeeding days, cresting somewhere around a foot-stomp and "don't wanna!" brat-growl before he drove us into the uncertain ether to which we are now ascribed. So, what happens now? Well, first, every editorial director at every news-paper in the state runs futile circles around Scott's seeming absence of benevolence – "Pants On Fire!" etc. – making sure along the way to point out that Scott doesn't even really know what he's talking about.
Case in point: Scott's immediate assertion that the Medicaid expansion piece of the ACA would cost the state $1.9 billion a year ("We can't pay for that!" he told Fox News). According to the Tampa Bay Times, even Scott's own lackeys at the state agency that oversees Medicaid were aware that the cost would increase from $121 million in 2013 to a possible $1.47 billion a decade later, gradually.
No worries. Scott's ever-pleasant spokesman Brian Burgess told the Times that the actual cost to the state didn't matter, anyway – because all of this is going to have "strings attached," like all Communist conspiracies – and, besides, "We have yet to hear a number that's good news for the state. They are substantially higher than what the state can afford."
We have a number for Burgess and Scott: 3.7 million – the number of Floridians according to the 2010 census who don't have any insurance coverage. Seems these numbers don't count unless they have dollar signs attached to them and poor people removed from them.
Regardless, Scott has become a laughing stock (again) nationwide for basically not giving a damn about people, something people should have already been aware of when they elected somebody with a degree in defrauding health care.
By July 5 – once the sparkly distractions of Independence Day had blown over – the Palm Beach Post finally drew the inevitable conclusion that, despite Scott's nerve-wracking bluster in his decision to ignore the ACA, the feds are probably going to just step in and save Florida. Bigger government! That means that even though Scott has already missed a June 29 deadline to file for an $830 million grant to set up the law's required exchanges and he refused $1 million toward planning the whole shebang earlier in the year, he may yet have to deal with a fate worse than, uh, doing nothing.
Perhaps the funniest part of this ridiculous dustup is that Florida's Senate leadership, including state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart who chairs the state's Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee, is already spouting off alternate plans for starting an exchange free of President Barack Obama's victory and/or federal intrusion.
"I think some of this can be done administratively through the Agency for Healthcare Administration," he said, according to the Post. "As for whether we need to have a special session, I think it's too early to tell."
Why? Because the deadline for states to get their exchange-asses in line is Nov. 16, more than a week after the presidential election. Also, Negron's projected plan doesn't take into account the letter of the law, and, basically, furthers the Republican notion that Medicaid should be privatized. Good luck with that. The fed funds Medicaid, meaning there will be even less money coming into an already broke state. Are we seceding? Somebody grab a gunnysack.
In much happier (and slightly less confusing) news, we popped up at the Orange County administration building downtown on July 6 to witness the official launch of the countywide domestic-partner registry, and boy was it jarringly different from the same type of affair that was held in January when the City of Orlando christened its influential ordinance. First of all, there was no harpist. Also, no catering (just the gay Oreos, thanks). In fact, there weren't even any representatives from the Board of County Commissioners, much less Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.
Gay-rights champion – or at least ordinance champion – county comptroller Martha Haynie, who called the day "an important step for civil rights, dignity and even peace of mind" was there. Yay, Martie!
Quizzed by the Orlando Sentinel as to where her co-workers were, Haynie slyly replied that she hadn't formally invited them. Yeah, because none of them were at all aware of the event. As we've documented before, this has been Haynie's battle – at least at the county level – since day one, so it was appropriate that she (the actual bean counter among the political legumes of the county) officiated the affair. You know what's awesome? We asked Haynie about any estimates of more work coming into her office now that the county's one million residents are eligible for partnership. "The city has had over 500 people sign up," she said. "I have no idea what the demand is going to be. We currently handle two to three thousand documents a day. What's a few hundred more?"
Haynie quickly highlighted the key differences between the city and county plans – city registries will be automatically honored at the county level; county residents are encouraged to download forms from the county website and mail them in, whereas the city wants you to show up at the city clerk's office – before deferring to a printed release with website address on it in lieu of actually speaking in code ("Dubya, dubya, dubya. It makes me sound so Southern," she joked).
At least one woman in attendance whispered to us that Haynie's leadership on this issue was an inspiration. "She should run for mayor," she said. Or governor!
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