There's a war raging in Florida right now, one that is about to boil over, thanks to Governor Rick Scott and his fear of the Affordable Care Act.
Some Florida Republicans are on board to expand Medicaid, mostly because Florida hospitals are about to lose the federal subsidies for uninsured poor people who show up in the emergency room. Remember, this is an ACA feature, not a bug. But Rick Scott will not agree to the expansion.
Instead, he is suing the federal government to force them to extend the emergency room subsidies, despite the fact that they were already extended once to June, 2015 when the government was under no obligation to do so.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday he is suing the Obama administration for withholding hospital funds because the state won't expand Medicaid.
The announcement is another twist in what has been a gritty yearlong battle with the feds over roughly $1 billion in funds for Florida hospitals that serve low-income people. The fight has come to a head as the state Legislature is desperate for an answer from the feds so it can finalize a state budget before May 1.
Scott contends that a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision bars the federal government from coercing states into expanding Medicaid. Yet, that's what the Republican governor says the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is doing because the agency insists that the hospital funds and Medicaid expansion should be part of the same discussion.
"It is appalling that President Obama would cut off federal health care dollars to Florida in an effort to force our state further into Obamacare," Scott said in a statement.
But as Greg Sargent notes, the federal government isn't forcing Florida into Obamacare, as Scott contends. It's perfectly within Congress' right to end one program and roll it up into another, which is what happened with the ACA.
So here’s my suggestion for Governor Rick Scott (and state House Republicans): Take the Medicaid expansion, and say it isn’t Obamacare.
It isn’t that outlandish an idea; in fact, GOP Governor John Kasich of Ohio has done exactly this. This way, Scott would get the federal money for “poor families’ access to safety net services” he says he wants. By helping to solve the budget standoff, Republicans could get the tax cuts they want. And he’d still be able to keep up the fight against what he’d be choosing to call “Obamacare.” Indeed, Scott may have another chance to prove his anti-Obamacare bona fides before long: If the Supreme Court guts subsidies in states on the federal exchange, Florida may be hit harder than any other state; some 1.5 million Floridiansqualify for subsidies. Scott could then refuse to set up an exchange and the resistance against Obamacare would continue, even as the budget mess is resolved.
Whatever. Perhaps Governor Voldemort should view the video from the Tea Partier who doesn't want to lose his Obamacare, or the subsidies that go with it before he jumps off the cliff.
When Rick Scott was CEO of Columbia/HCA he was Medicare's biggest fraudster. Is his resistance to the Medicaid expansion ideological, or does he just not see the same potential for skimming profits with it that he does with the now-ended emergency room payment plan?
Whatever the case, he's even managed to rile up some Florida Republican lawmakers on this, who are more interested in getting the budget done than waging another ACA battle when it is becoming more popular and they are not.