The Westside Gazette

Will Scott stand with the Florida Senate for Medicaid expansion?

Roger Caldwell

Will Scott stand with the Florida Senate for Medicaid expansion?

By Roger Caldwell

      It is very easy when you live in Florida to attack and criticize the Republican Legislature. For the last four years, the legislature has been against President Obama and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This conservative thinking has hurt Floridians who don’t have access to healthcare, because of a lack of insurance.

There are 3.9 million Floridians who would benefit from the Florida Legislature implementing ACA and Medicaid expansion. Since the Florida Legislature has refused to accept the ACA, the state in 2014 lost $3 billion in funding from the federal government, and every day in 2015, it is losing $10 million. Basic common sense should prevail with Governor Scott and the legislature, because Floridians could benefit with this federal money coming to the state.

Last week a Senate panel approved legislation that would allow Florida to use billions of federal dollars to expand healthcare coverage. This is not the first time that the Florida Legislature has tried to pass the ACA. In 2013 the legislators rejected a proposal to expand Medicaid, and there were rumors that Governor Scott supported the legislation, but he remained quiet.

Now in 2015, there appears to be a bipartisan movement in the Florida Senate, and their President Andy Gardiner supports healthcare legislature. “This is going to be a very hard bill to pass, extremely hard, the odds are against us,” said Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican and former Senate president. Nevertheless, the Senate is trying to make a difference, and take advantage of federal funding.

This position is smart politics, but in the Florida House, it is a different story. In the Florida House, the Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli has stated that there would not be a companion measure this session. He argues that he will not support a broken federal system, and the federal government may not follow through on its payment promise.

The Republicans in both Houses are divided and split on whether they should take money from the federal government. Many experts and political pundits think that Governor Scott should stop sitting on the sidelines, and be engaged in the healthcare conversation. With Florida losing $10 million a day by not participating in the ACA, the governor should make the plausible and smart decision, and support healthcare legislation.

In 2015, healthcare in Florida is going backwards, because millions of Floridians don’t have access to insurance, and they are in a healthcare gap. They are not poor, and they make too much money, their company does not provide healthcare, or they are just too confused with the process.

As the governor remains quiet, Florida has the potential too loose $1 billion in federal aid, which is now flowing to hospitals to help pay for the poor and the uninsured. Leadership is the key in Florida, if the state is going to move forward and remain healthy. It makes no sense to leave billions of dollars with the federal government, and it can be used by all the residents in Florida.

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