Monday , 28 July 2014
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Gov. Scott’s numbers on Medicaid do not add up

Our governor is at it again. Gov. Rick Scott on more than one occasion has refused money from Washington knowing that his refusal will not reduce the national debt, a good intention, but only give federally collected taxpayer money to benefit another state.

Now he is playing with the numbers in saying that the cost of expanded Medicaid, under the Congress’ approved and Supreme Court-affirmed Affordable Care Act, will cost the state of Florida, you and me, $26 billion during the next decade.

I would agree with the governor that we the taxpayers of Florida could not afford a $26 billion addition to our state budget, if there wasn’t an income stream to offset the cost. But, as the governor conveniently forgot to tell us, the federal government will give Florida between 95 percent of the cost in 2014 reducing over the years to 90 percent in 2020 and beyond. Taking an average of 92.5 percent of the cost of the expanded Medicaid, the net cost to Florida taxpayers over the next 10 years would be approximately $2.6 billion.

I am sure the state could afford that increase, even if the costs ran double and the federal government stuck to its original agreement. That would still cost us less than a billion additional dollars a year.

Expanding the subject we must ask, if we do not expand Medicaid to cover all “eligible” Floridians, who would cover their medical expenses? I can tell you who: the local taxpayer-funded hospitals around the state such as Jackson Memorial here in Miami.

I’ll bet my next month’s Social Security check that the cost to local taxpayers will be many times greater than the $2.6 billion a year we must come up with to cover expanded Medicaid.

I will be kind and just say that I can’t understand our governor making statements to Floridians, to the press and, yes, to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services in Washington, that Florida can’t afford the $26 billion cost, forgetting to mention that Sebelius’ department would be footing over 92 percent of the cost. Not only did our governor make himself look like an idiot for his statement but made the voters of Florida look like idiots for electing him in the first place.

It is not like the governor went to Washington unaware of the federal funding or in general the major errors in the financial projections. J. Eric Pridgeon on the staff of Florida’s House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee told the governor he questioned the study three days after its publication. Pridgeon said that the federal revenues for Medicaid expansion, part of the Affordable Care Act that would defray most of the cost to the state, could not be ignored.

The governor can’t hide behind the fact that it was just some state study generated outside his office when in fact the governor is the very one who directed the analysis to be prepared. I have no problem with our governor having a different position on a specific issue — that is the American way. I do, however, have a big problem with false information being presented to the public as fact when in fact the governor knew all along that it was not true.

This procedure seems to be coming the “new” American way — a way of life I fear that will destroy the very fabric of honesty that created our great nation.

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