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Are poor Floridians used as pawns in Scott’s healthcare war?

Roger Caldwell

Roger Caldwell

Are poor Floridians used as pawns in Scott’s healthcare war?

By Roger Caldwell

There are times when Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature make decisions because they have a grudge against President Obama and the federal government. Their goal is to make sure that the President fails, and they don’t care who in the state they hurt. This behavior is counter-productive, and the most vulnerable and the poor suffer in the state.

By not agreeing to the Medicaid expansion, Florida is losing $210 million each month, according to Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. Our governor would like everyone in the state to think that our economy is recovering, but no state in the country can afford to leave millions sitting on a table earmarked for our state.

Florida has one of the highest uninsured rates in the country, and it would be logical for the political leaders to accept a program that will cover over a million uninsured citizens. There is also another 800,000 residents in a “coverage gap,” where they earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for tax credits. All our legislators and governor has to say is yes, and millions will be covered by the insurance provisions in the law.

There are also 500,000 uninsured kids in the state, where 66 percent are eligible for insurance immediately, but very few organizations are talking, and advocating for Florida’s children. Kid Well Florida is a collaborative of many stakeholder groups working together to ensure our children receive quality health care. Our children’s health should be a top priority in the state for all children, including lawfully residing immigrant children, but is it?

Since Governor Scott has taken office, the state’s labor force has been cut, and our children and parent’s healthcare has slipped through the cracks. “After six years as a member of Florida’s Senate committee and one year as president of the Senate, I’ve learned that there is one rule with no exceptions. That rule is health care will always cost more next year than it cost this year,” says Senate President Don Gaetz.

At one time this thinking was plausible, but with the new ACA, competition is driving the cost of certain medical procedures down, and this is just the beginning of these innovative programs. A small but growing number of U.S. corporations, such as Walmart, are offering their insured employees certain procedures at highly ranked health systems across America at almost no out –of-pocket cost to them.

These programs involve a large corporation negotiating a bundled rate from a health system for certain services. These bundled services are saving the company thousands of dollars and they pass these savings on to the employee.

“We’re going to see a lot more of this. And if physicians cannot compete on price, then they are going to have to compete on quality and exceptional customer service, if they are going to keep patients,” says Simon Hudson PhD, director of the SC Center of Economic Excellence. Changes and lower charges are taking place in the health care industry, because large companies and state offices with a large number of employees can negotiate discounts on cost for many different procedures.

It makes no sense to walk around with grudges, and hurt low and middle income residents’ healthcare. Florida officials must begin to think outside of the box, and stop leaving millions of dollars in Washington that we can use in the state. It is time for Floridians to put pressure on our governor and our representatives, and get Medicaid expansion approved.



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