Florida Gov. Rick Scott tells Newsmax that his state is in the forefront of the legal fight against Obamacare, which he calls the biggest “job killer” facing Floridians today.
In his exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, the first-term Republican also discussed changes in Florida’s welfare system, efforts to deal with prescription narcotics abuse, tax reform, and his crusade to create jobs in the Sunshine State.
Florida has filed a lawsuit challenging provisions of the healthcare reform legislation, including the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. A number of other states have joined the suit.
And the Florida legislature has approved the Healthcare Freedom Act, a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Floridians to opt out of Obamacare if voters approve. Gov. Scott, a former healthcare company executive, explains why he supports those moves.
The story continues below the video.
“The federal government shouldn’t be telling us how to spend our money. That doesn’t make any sense,” he says.
“We should have the freedom as individuals on how we spend our money, whether we want to buy health insurance or don’t want to buy health insurance. It’s not something the federal government should do. What else are you going to tell us to buy?
“I’ve put a lot of effort into making sure the right thing happens in healthcare. The right thing is you ought to know what your options are. There ought to be more competition. You ought to be able to buy whatever insurance you want. You ought to be able to know what things cost. You ought to get the same tax breaks that employers do so you buy your own policy. You ought to get a break if you take care of yourself.
“The problem with healthcare is it costs too much, but it’s the system that costs too much. That’s what we should attack, not having some mandate that we ought to buy government-sponsored insurance.”
Asked if Florida’s lawsuit puts the state in the forefront in the fight against Obamacare, Scott responds: “Absolutely. [Former] Attorney General [Bill] McCollum did a great job with that suit and then Attorney General Pam Bondi has kept it going. We now have even more states that have joined us. A majority of states in the country are part of our suit.
“It’s a suit that I believe we’ll win. It will go to the Supreme Court most likely. Hopefully the right thing will happen. I’m very optimistic.”
Obamacare threatens to add as many as 1.7 million Floridians to Medicaid, which already eats up 30 percent of the state’s budget. Asked how Florida should deal with this, Scott tells Newsmax: “The long-term solution is, the federal government should give us a block grant.
“We know what we want to do in Florida. We know who we want to take care of. We know we can do it better. We don’t need the strings attached that the federal government always attaches to every program they have.
“Obamacare is going to be the biggest job killer in our state. It’s going to cause unbelievable tax increases because we won’t be able to afford all the additional mandates.
“Employers right now are deciding whether they want to hire or not hire based on the cost of Obamacare. We need to make sure that we defend our rights as an individual state to decide what we want to do with healthcare, and the best thing the federal government can do is just give us a block grant — no different from how they dealt with welfare reform back in the mid-1990s.”
Scott backs a new provision requiring Floridians who apply for welfare benefits to take a drug test.
“If you’re a taxpayer and you’re paying for somebody’s welfare benefits, the odds are you probably had to take a drug test to get your job,” he says.
“So isn’t it fair that somebody on welfare take a drug test? And if they have a problem, there’s a good chance they’ll get treatment and deal with those issues. So it’s fair to the taxpayers and it’s fair to the recipient.”
Florida has been cited as the nation’s epicenter for “pill mills” — dispensaries of prescription pain medications. Asked why the problem is acute in Florida, Scott responds: “We have not had a law enforcement solution. So the first thing I did was set up a strike force with Attorney General Bondi. We allocated dollars to help our local sheriffs and local police chiefs, who have been overwhelmed with this problem, and focused on making sure we had legislation that really worked.
“The first thing we said was if you’re a physician and you prescribe a narcotic, you shouldn’t be able to dispense it out of your office. Second we said [doctors] can’t own a pharmacy.
“Think about this problem: We know the manufacturer. We know the distributor. We know the doctors. So if we put our efforts into this and really monitor it, we can have a dramatic impact.”
Noting that “seven or eight people a day are dying in our state from these drugs,” Scott adds that the strike force “has been very successful. We’ve had a lot of arrests. We’re going to stop this problem. We’re no longer going to be known as the OxyContin Express.”
Scott says he is pleased with the $69 billion budget passed by Florida’s state legislature.
“My focus is, and this budget does it, to reduce business tax. Almost half the business owners who are paying taxes now won’t be paying business taxes going forward. More money in their hands means more jobs.
“On top of that it reduces property taxes by over $200 million. That also will help business owners and individuals who want to start businesses, and [the budget] drives down the cost of government.”
Asked what he would like to accomplish during the next four years, Scott tells Newsmax: “I put a specific plan together — seven steps to 700,000 jobs. I want to make sure this is the state where you want to open your business, expand your business, move your business to, because it is the state that is the model for the rest of the country.
“I want to be a model for having fair taxes. Don’t waste taxpayers’ money. Have fair regulations. We don’t need regulations that don’t make sense, and permitting processes that take too long.
“I also want to make sure that we have a great education system. We want to have the best-educated workforce, and we want to take care of the environment.”
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