The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act offers crucial benefits to the citizens of Florida. It will provide 290,000 small businesses in Florida with tax credits to insure their employees. It will also close the Medicare Part D donut hole, increase health care coverage for young adults, expand Medicaid, protect patients with the Patient’s Bill of Rights and will establish new consumer protections to ensure both healthy and ill patients can receive coverage at competitive rates. In short, the Affordable Care Act works for you. However, Gov. Rick Scott says that the state of Florida can’t afford it. According to the Naples Daily News, Scott pays less than $400 a year for his and his wife’s health insurance. That’s right — the man who pays just less than $400 a year for his and his wife’s own state health insurance says the state of Florida cannot afford to expand health care coverage of its citizens.
The irony gets even worse. The governor who says we can’t afford to expand crucial services to Floridians is the same man whose company stole from Medicare and Medicaid, leading to the largest government fraud settlement in U.S. history. His company, Columbia/HCA, pled guilty to 14 felony charges, including three counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States, leading to one of the largest fraud settlements in our nation’s history of $1.7 billion. According to PolitiFact, Scott conveniently resigned as CEO before the verdict came in.
Therefore, Scott, the man who pays less than $400 a year for his own health coverage and whose company was convicted of stealing from Medicare and Medicaid in 1999, is refusing to implement what is now the law of the land — the Affordable Care Act.
On Fox News, Scott argued the law will “kill jobs,” maintaining that the state will only implement what they are forced to as required by law; otherwise they are committed to repealing health care reform before it takes effect.
In other words, Scott is committed to ensuring the citizens of Florida do not have health care. And according to PolitiFact, he’s using bogus numbers to defend that stance.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, states must create “health care exchanges,” where consumers can compare rates and benefits of varying health care providers. The law also provides the option of expanding Medicaid to 133 percent of the poverty level, meaning families of four making $29,700 could qualify for benefits.
Scott says these two provisions cost too much. But according to PolitiFact, Scott’s numbers are false. He repeatedly stated that the Medicaid expansion will cost the state $1.9 billion. However, the expansion wouldn’t take place until 2014, and the federal government is required to cover the first three budget years of cost increases. After that, the state begins covering the costs through increments. By 2020, PolitiFact states that the state can expect a $500 million cost to expand Medicaid, other estimates say $1 billion — still considerably less than Scott’s claim. That cost could add 2 million new enrollees over the next six years, ensuring more of Florida’s families have the health coverage they need.
In regards to the health care exchanges, Florida already refused $4 million in federal money to create a virtual health care exchange according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The purpose of this exchange is to encourage competition among health care providers and prevent monopolies of health care providers. As the free market argument goes, competition will decrease cost but increase quality for the consumers.
But again, according to our governor, we can’t afford a free market system to provide quality and affordable health care for Floridians. We certainly cannot hold insurance companies accountable to ensure they are actually providing health insurance — not simply making a profit. Get the facts on the Affordable Care Act and tell Scott that we can’t afford not to have Obamacare in the state of Florida.
Anyone interested in writing a column for the Opinions section at the Central Florida Future can contact the Opinions Editor, Kaley LaQuea, at firstname.lastname@example.org.