Florida’s Republican legislators have worked tirelessly to prevent their poorest and most vulnerable constituents from receiving healthcare coverage through Obamacare, rejecting the Medicare subsidies as government interference and unnecessary entitlements. But once again, they hypocritically fail to practice what they preach- 145 of 160 legislators receive a $22,000 annual health benefit paid for by the state. Florida’s billionaire Governor Rick Scott is leading the charge against expanding ACA benefits but only pays a paltry $30 a month for a family group health plan under the state’s Senior Management and Select Exemptive Service plan.
Nearly one million Floridians who would benefit from expanding Medicare coverage are instead reduced to fruitlessly petitioning the deaf ears of a legislative body whose health-care premiums cost a ridiculous 13% of the typical insurance premium residents in-state pay for coverage.Florida House Republicans pay $180 a month for group coverageJose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami-area Florida House delegate who voted for Medicare expansion said that the “rejection of the plan by House Republican leadership is part of a dangerous trend: Florida politics, at least in the House, are becoming nationalized…that is not a good thing.”
That same legislature objects to a program where the federal government pays all of the costs of Medicare expansion for 3 years, and 90% of the costs afterwards. Apparently an 87% subsidy is good enough for the Florida Legislature, but 90% is too good for the hardworking Florida residents.
“Four House Republicans voted with all of the Democrats for the Florida Senate’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion bill on Friday but it wasn’t enough,” continues Rep. Rodriguez, which he contends will, “hurt hundreds of thousands of uninsured in the so-called coverage gap, and local taxpayers who will be on the hook.”
The Florida legislature has one task, enshrined in the state constitution that stands above all others: to create and ratify a budget by June 30th of each year. Normally, the part-time legislature only meets once a year; however, this year Florida House Republicans refused to complete any budget that might give healthcare to the poor and needy. Their important work left undone, so the Florida Legislature had to schedule a second “special” session for this June to keep kicking the can around, to grappel with the civil war between the House and Florida’s Senate (also Republican controlled), who wants to accept Obamacare’s expansion of Medicare. Florida’s House, and now Governor too want to reject expansion – even though it means losing hundreds of millions in Federal dollars that residents already pay in taxes.
Slick Rick Scott even decided to play games with Obamacare by swearing on his dead mother’s grave that Medicare expansion was morally right in 2013, shortly after her death. Now we find out that that, was all just a sick political game to the former CEO of Columbia-HCA Hospitals, seeking a few points in the polls ahead of an election year.
Republicans are quick to point out when someone is “flip flopping” on an issue, but have made an art out of hypocritically altering their message to suit the audience being addressed. Rick Scott and the Florida House Republicans have discarded the welfare of their citizens in favor of leaving the people at the mercy of the free market and the exploitative practices of Scott’s corporate backers.
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Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.