Currently, Florida governor Rick Scott has second thoughts on Obamacare and Medicaid expansion, after a change of heart two years ago when he suddenly switched from a fierce opponent to an enthusiastic supporter shortly after his mother’s death.
Back then, he even went live on TV to tell his voters that he has changed his mind on President Obama’s health care reform. He also said that he would no longer deprive “in good conscience” nearly 1 million citizens of vital health care coverage by opposing expansion.
The announcement was a big surprise both for his fellow Republicans and his electorate since Floridians’ trusted Scott enough to elect him governor mainly because he made his political debut by running TV ads which bashed Obamacare.
Subsequently, many people including his longtime supporters thought that he changed his mind on Medicaid expansion because he wanted to draw Obama administration’s support for his plans to hand over Medicaid enrollees’ health care coverage to private insurers.
But Florida governor replied then that his sudden change of heart was linked to his mother death and Obama administration’s approval for his long-term plan to allow private insurers to take care of the Medicaid health care of more than three million people.
But this year, the governor changed his stance once more. He recently started to harshly criticize Obama’s health care reform and the President ambitions to expand Medicaid even more. He even sued the federal government a couple of weeks ago for White House’s pressures on him to consider as eligible for Medicaid coverage people that do not qualify as the working poor. He also said that taxpayers will suffer the most.
Although Florida performs much better financially than it did two years ago, gov. Scott doesn’t want an expansion. Under the current regulations, Florida covers about 40 percent of the Medicaid expenses, while the federal government covers 60 percent. If the expansion occurs, government would cover those expenses entirely at first, and 90 percent later.
On Friday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz harshly criticized Scott for deceitfully trying to privatize Medicaid while pretending that he was a strong supporter of the expansion. She also said that she was at a loss for words when she saw the Florida governor’s “true colors.”
But Medicaid expansion debate has broader consequences besides Scott’s lack of credibility due to his lack of consistency. Last week, Florida lawmakers failed to pass a budget due to the controversy. Senators who tried to cater to hospital and insurers’ interests came at odds with Scott and conservatives in the House who rejected the measure.
Florida budget, which has a yawning hole, needs to be passed by July 1. Moreover, a federal grant which covers hospital care for poor patients nears its expiration date, unless lawmakers can strike a deal with federal government by June 30.
But Thursday, Gov. Scott failed to persuade Obama administration to extend the $1 billion grant without a Medicaid expansion. On that day, a reporter asked Scott whether he changed his stance on Medicaid expansion in the last couple of years because of an election.
“Let’s remember what I said back then. It was the day that we were able to get our waivers done,”
the governor replied.
Image Source: Democratic Governors