It seemed like a watershed moment for the Affordable Care Act when Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), a staunch Obamacare opponent, embraced the Medicaid expansion in February.
“While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the costs, I cannot deny Floridians who need access to health care,” Scott told reporters at a press conference.
Scott wouldn’t be the one to “deny Floridians” a part of the health care law—but the Florida legislature had other plans. Lawmakers adjourned Friday after passing a budget that does not include funding for a Medicaid expansion. Unless the Republican-controlled legislature comes back for a special session later this year—which some Democrats are calling for—Florida will not expand Medicaid in 2014.
In Florida, where one in five non-elderly residents lack insurance coverage, the consequences are especially large: An estimated 1.3 million Floridians were expected to gain coverage through the the Medicaid expansion.
But we did get a bunch of new specialty license plates, so we’re good.
I have friends and colleagues who are conservative Republicans who work with the elected representatives of the state of Florida who shake their head in mystified sorrow over the stupidity and just plain ignorance that passes for what goes on when the legislature is in session. It isn’t just the conservative mindset or the lingering effects of the shock of finding out that the country has elected a ni-CLANG! twice as president. It’s a blend of fundamental ignorance and blatant anti-everything that has happened since the Roosevelt (Theodore, not Franklin) administration. Government-subsidized healthcare? Augh! Socialism!
Gov. Scott, to his credit as a politician if not as a craven cynic who believes he can get re-elected by suddenly coming across as a pragmatist, is now trying to get the genie that he yanked out of the bottle back into it before the Teabaggers at The Villages find out he’s gone squishy and they come after him on their Medicare-supplied scooters. The only thing that will save him is the fact that the Florida Democrats are so weak that the best hope they have is a warmed-over Charlie Crist.
Meanwhile, 1.3 million Floridians will be turning to the emergency rooms for medical care and the rest of us will be paying for it at a much higher cost because… FREEDOM!