Rick Scott’s Smart Move on Florida Medicaid

Friday, 22 Feb 2013 04:23 PM

By Christopher Ruddy

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to agree to expand Medicaid coverage in his state is not only perfectly sensible, but a reasonable action for a conservative governor of the nation’s fourth most populous state.
 
Scott said on Wednesday that he would ask the legislature to broaden the program and allow Florida taxpayers to reap the benefit of full federal funding for the Medicaid expansion during the first three years.
 
The liberal media and some conservatives are in a tizzy. Scott had ardently opposed provisions of the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, so the suggestion is that he has engaged in hypocrisy.
 
Such critics are wrong.
 
Scott has strongly opposed Obamacare and continues to.
 
He simply said this week that he believes it would be wrong to deny Florida citizens the benefits of 100 percent federal funding for the Medicaid expansion.
 
Scott has also made it clear that he has not agreed to continue the Medicaid expansion beyond three years, when federal funding will drop to 90 percent, and Florida could opt out at that point.
 
In announcing his reversal, Scott said “it is not a white flag of surrender to government-run healthcare,” but added that he "cannot in good conscience deny the uninsured access to care.
 
“Legislation we would support would sunset after three years and need to be reauthorized. It would also sunset if the federal government backed away from their 100 percent commitment during this period.”
 
He also can’t ignore the fact that you and I and millions of Florida taxpayers will now be paying additional taxes and fees to fund Obamacare.
 
It would be a grave mistake for a sitting governor to stop that money from returning to Florida residents.
 
A similar situation arose when Obama rammed through his $800 billion stimulus program in 2009. Almost every Republican governor who opposed the stimulus plan before it became law accepted its funding for states. They would have been crazy not to.
 
Today, Scott joins a number of conservative governors who have opposed Obamacare but believe it would be a disservice to taxpayers not to accept federal funding.
 
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a strong conservative and one of the most vocal opponents of Obamacare, announced on Jan. 14 that the state would expand its Medicaid program with federal funding.
 
In her State of the State address, she acknowledged the pragmatism behind her decision and stated that “the Affordable Care Act is not going anywhere, at least for the time being.”
 
In February, Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich said his state too would expand Medicaid, adding that “this is not an endorsement of Obamacare. I think it’s something to be considered separately from some people’s strong feelings — including mine — about Obamacare.”
 
Several days after Kasich’s announcement, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder also reversed his stance against Medicaid expansion, saying it makes sense for the “physical and fiscal health” of his state to do so.
 
Republican governors in North Dakota, New Mexico, and Nevada also have agreed to the federal plan.
 
As the Supreme Court ruled last year, Obamacare is the law of the land.
 
Frankly, Obamacare is a bad law of the land, one that will prove disastrous for healthcare and our economy.
 
You know that. I know it. Rick Scott knows it.
 
But the voters had the opportunity to roll back Obamacare last November by electing Mitt Romney. That didn’t happen.
 
So governors like Scott and Brewer have to put aside their personal views and accept the reality of the situation.
 
Scott, former head of the huge Columbia/HCA hospital chain, was an outspoken critic of Obamacare even before he ran for governor.
 
In 2009, he founded Conservatives for Patients’ Rights to oppose Obamacare, and backed it with millions of dollars of his own money.
 
Then in April 2010, a month after Obama signed the healthcare bill into law, Scott announced his candidacy for governor, and he later told Newsmax that Obamacare would be “devastating for everybody.”
 
He continued his opposition after taking office as governor in the Sunshine State, supporting a lawsuit challenging provisions of the healthcare reform legislation and putting Florida in the forefront in the fight against Obamacare. A number of other states joined the suit.
 
Considering his stiff opposition to the law, Scott’s temporary acceptance of Medicaid funding is a wise move.
 
“This is a common-sense solution to dealing with this for the next three years,” he said. “It’ll give us time to think about how we can improve the system.”
 
It also will give us time to help elect more congressmen and senators who share our view that Obamacare should be repealed fully.
 
The important thing to remember here is that Rick Scott hasn’t changed his view on Obamacare.
 
The governor simply recognizes that Washington is taking Florida’s money, and it should be returned to the state and save taxpayers the cost of carrying the nearly 4 million people who lack healthcare insurance.
 
Christopher Ruddy is CEO and editor of Newsmax Media Inc. Read more Christopher Ruddy Insider articles — Click Here Now.
 

 
 
 
 

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