by Max Brantley
"While the federal government is committed to pay 100 percent of the cost of new people in Medicaid, I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care," Scott said at a hastily arranged press conference at the Governor's Mansion.
Scott supports a three-year expansion, during which the federal government will pay all the cost. Florida could pull out before then if the feds backed off the 100 percent commitment. At the end of three years, the legislature would have to decide to reauthorize the program. Idea for Arkansas Republicans, maybe? How, really, can you lose? Except a little pride after running on nothing but criticism of Obamacare and the swarthy man in the White House for four years.
Scott's approval seems tied to a federal waiver that allows Florida to privatize its Medicaid program.
Scott and other GOP lawmakers have repeatedly warned that Medicaid's roughly $21 billion annual costs were consuming Florida's budget and proposed the managed care plan to save money and improve care.
The privatization plan expands on a five-county pilot program that has been rife with problems. Critics worry for-profit providers are scrimping on patient care and denying medical services to increase profits. Some doctors have dropped out of the pilot program, complaining of red tape and that the insurers deny the tests and medicine they prescribe. Patients have complained they struggled to get doctor's appointments.
Rep. Westerman? What say the 'baggers?
Here's the Scott speech. Arkansas Republicans can read, but can they comprehend?
To be clear - our options are either having Floridians pay to fund this program in other states while denying healthcare to our citizens — or — using federal funding to help some of the poorest in our state with the Medicaid program as we explore other healthcare reforms.
... Quality healthcare services must be accessible and affordable for all — not just those in certain zip codes or tax brackets.
... Expanding access to Medicaid services for three years is a compassionate, common sense step forward.
Can we dream that an Arkansas Republican would utter such words? Exhibit compassion? Common sense?