I have yet to hear a reason for Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Republican legislators’ refusal to expand Medicaid that isn’t based on bullshit, lies, and a cynical hint of racism tossed in for good measure. What we get are the usual suspects: it’s a federal mandate and therefore it is evil; it’s a government hand-out to the poor who already get enough freebies (if they did, then why are they still poor?); and you can’t trust You-Know-Who because he’s a secretly gay Kenyan Muslim socialist.
Jon Cohn has a good piece in Huffington Post that sums it up.
To put it another way, expanding Medicaid in Florida would likely require a net investment by state taxpayers that, over the course of a decade, would work out to less than a half-billion dollars a year. That’s without accounting for any additional growth and tax revenues that the huge infusion of federal dollars might provide. That’s also without accounting for the more than $1 billion a year in that, without expanding Medicaid, Florida would probably have to scrounge up in order to help hospitals defray the cost of charity care.
In short, if the numbers were lopsided in favor of expanding Medicaid before, they are even more lopsided now. And it’s not as if anybody is arguing seriously that those grants are a superior way of financing care for the poor. If anything, the opposite is true — and it’s one reason the editorial page of the Tampa Bay Times called Scott’s position “indefensible.” Other editorial pages, civic organizations, and business groups across the state have made similar statements.
Of course, conservative fervor to block or repeal the Affordable Care Act has always seemed a bit disconnected from reality, given that the law consists almost entirely of pieces that existed, without such fuss, long before Obamacare came along. The lone exception is the “individual mandate,” the requirement that people carry insurance or pay a fee. And that’s an idea that plenty of conservatives tolerated — and some even supported — less than a decade ago. In fact, it was a conservative expert at the Heritage Foundation who many historians credit with the idea.
No, the level of hostility to Obamacare makes very little sense — unless it’s about something beyond the policy particulars. It could be the fact that Democrats finally accomplished something big, for the first time in several decades, thereby expanding the welfare state at a time when conservatives thought they were on their way to shrinking it. Or it could be the idea that, on net, the Affordable Care Act transfers resources away from richer, whiter people to poorer, darker people. Or it could be the fact that “Obamacare” contains the word “Obama,” whose legitimacy as president at least some conservatives just can’t accept.
Who knows? The only thing certain is that, in Florida, turning down Medicaid has even weaker logic than it did before — except for officials obsessed with Obamacare or determined to please the people who are. Rick Scott may belong in either category and he might just belong in both.
I suspect that a good deal of the opposition comes from the fact that it’s Obamacare, which as we all know is the death-knell of Freedom. So it’s better that poor people die for the sake of some Tea Partiers’ idea of freedom?