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“Particularly Shameless”: Rick Scott Lied On His Mother’s Grave — And Blew A Hole In The GOP’s Anti-ObamaCare Argument

When it comes to ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid, it may seem like a matter of simple logic for states to take the money that’s on offer. It would both help their most vulnerable citizens and pump lots of money into local economies.

Alas, logic and the contemporary Republican Party have little relation to each other, so most GOP-controlled statehouses have turned down the offer. But few have done so in a more clownish manner, or exposed the contradictions in the Republican position more clearly, than Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott has flip-flopped on Medicaid, first opposing it, then supporting it, then opposing it again. This is bad, if not entirely unusual, political behavior. But Scott was particularly shameless, citing his recently deceased mother as his justification for suddenly embracing the expansion in 2013.

As he has now revealed, however, Scott was lying on his mother’s grave. He pretended to embrace the Medicaid expansion to secure a federal waiver for privatizing Florida’s Medicaid system, then quietly dropped his support once the waiver was granted. (The Obama administration’s decision to give the quid without first getting the quo, given who they were dealing with, was not its finest hour.)

So Scott used his deceased mother as a shield to lie about his motives in order to funnel federal taxpayer money to Florida businesses, then reneged on his part of the deal, leaving many poor Floridians to needlessly suffer and in some cases die. All par for the course for Scott, who before entering politics oversaw a massive amount of Medicare fraud as CEO of a large for-profit hospital operator.

At this point, one could say that, rank dishonesty and opportunism aside, at least Scott is standing on principle. He is turning down federal dollars to protect state sovereignty. Not a very attractive principle, but at least a principle, right?

Nope. Before the Affordable Care Act, the federal government made money available to states to create Low-Income Pools (LIP) that would reimburse hospitals that treated patients who couldn’t afford to pay for emergency services. Florida is receiving more than $1 billion a year in federal funds from LIP. The ACA, however, makes the LIP obsolete. It addresses problems of uncompensated hospitals by expanding Medicaid, greatly reducing the number of patients who cannot pay their bills.

The federal government has told Florida that it will not make the LIP funds available, pointing to the Medicaid funding which remains available. But Scott wants to have his cake and eat it, too. Not only is he demanding that the federal funding continue, he has actually filed a frivolous lawsuit arguing that the federal government is obligated to give Florida the LIP money. The Obama administration, having been burned by Scott already, is unmoved.

This lawsuit builds on the Supreme Court’s already shaky holding that allowed states to opt out of the expansion, pushing it to an extreme that would be too absurd even for the Roberts Court. It has virtually no chance of succeeding.

But the decision to file it is instructive. On the one hand, Scott is arguing that taking an extraordinarily good offer from the federal government to insure its poor citizens would be an intolerable intrusion on the sacred sovereignty of the state of Florida. On the other hand, Scott is arguing that Florida has a right to another source of federal tax dollars for health care.

There is, in other words, no actual principle involved here — not even a bad “states’ rights” one. It’s just pure partisan politics, with Florida’s poor people being punished as a result.

As Michael Hilzik of the LA Times observes, Scott’s disgraceful behavior reflects broader trends in Republican governance. The decision of Republican officials at the state level to reject the Medicaid expansion, while misleading their constituents about the dread ObamaCare, continues to have disastrous results for their citizens.

The ensuing mess in Florida — where a huge hole has been blown in the state budget because anti-ACA fanatics won’t take the Medicaid expansion — does at least provide a glimmer of hope for the longer term. Red-state legislators may not particularly care about the many poor people being needlessly denied access to medical care. But they will start to increasingly care about the medical professionals and hospitals who are also being screwed. Once Obama leaves office, it’s likely that more and more states will grudgingly take the federal money.

In the meantime, however, the consequences of misrule in these states will continue to be grim.


By: Scott Lemieux, The Week, May 18, 2015

May 19, 2015 Posted by | Low Income Pools, Medicaid Expansion, Obamacare, Rick Scott | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“If You Vote For A Republican…Beware”: Republican Governors Show Their True Colors Turning Down Billions In Medicaid Expansion

In a 2012 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that states could decide to take the Medicaid expansion or not. In a purely political, but predictable move, Republican governor after Republican governor chose to say no to Medicaid expansion for their states even though their community hospitals are bursting at the seams.

Why would any elected official turn down free health care dollars for its citizens? These 24 Republican governors would prefer to say no to billions of federal dollars that would provide healthcare coverage for millions of destitute folks, than take funds from the Obama administration. They claim their states could not afford the expansions. The truth is that the federal government pays 100 percent of the cost the first three years and then at least 90 percent thereafter. Hate truly is stronger than compassion in the GOP and it is costing the party their logic, reason and good business sense. When you turn down health care for millions of citizens, billions of dollars and job creation out of spite, you are not representing the best interests of your constituents.

Many Republicans say they don’t think the government should be involved in keeping its citizens healthy through a government-provided healthcare system. My question is why is it OK for great government health care to be provided to these elected Republicans but it’s not OK to provide for our American people?

Rick Perry, governor of Texas, turned down the Medicaid expansion that would have created 200,000 new jobs in addition to insuring millions of people. As a result of his selfish ideology, Texas will lose more than $9 billion.

In Florida, the healthcare company Columbia/HCA, was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud while Rick Scott, prior to being governor, was CEO. Now Scott doesn’t want to let Florida’s citizens receive the benefits from the Medicaid expansion. Florida will lose $5 billion.

If Louisiana accepted the ACA provisions and expanded Medicaid, 240,000 people would be eligible for affordable care, yet Governor Bobby Jindal refused.

Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders also rejected the expansion of Medicaid coverage for approximately 175,000 uninsured Oklahomans leaving the state with no viable overall healthcare plan.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Corbett’s decision not to accept the expansion will leave $500 million in federal funds on the table in 2014. These funds could provide health care for 500,000 people, a financial boost to hospitals and local healthcare providers, and create upwards of 35,000 jobs.

Likewise, Governor Christi of New Jersey vetoed a bill that would permanently establish the Medicaid expansion.

By 2022, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia will all lose more than $2 billion each.

Expanding Medicaid coverage costs less than 1 percent of the state budgets on average, while not accepting the funds are leading to state budget shortfalls and health facilities closures.

While the Republicans are quick to send our military into harm’s way, they are less eager to take care of them when they return home.

About 1.3 million veterans are uninsured nationwide. According to a report by Pew, approximately 258,600 of these veterans are living below the poverty line in states refusing to expand Medicaid. Without veteran’s benefits and with incomes too low to qualify for subsidies to use state exchanges, these veterans are left without affordable coverage options.

State governors owe the best health care available to their citizens whether veterans, indigent or just the sick. But, that isn’t what these Republican governors are doing. They are placing their political ideology over their citizens’ health.

The states with the most uninsured and the poorest people are the same states refusing to take federal funds to help their people. Instead of embracing the Medicaid expansion, they are shunning it as if it was a plague. While taxpayers in all states fund the Medicaid expansion, only people in half the states are reaping the advantages of those tax dollars, jobs and medical benefits — the states with Democratic governors.

Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, on the day after the Affordable Care Act of 2010 was signed into law, appointed a task force to prepare his state to accept more Medicaid money and establish rules on how it would be spent. Its program will offer 300 insurance options provided by 12 private insurance companies and nine managed-care systems. These aren’t government programs but private ones — just like the coverage carried today by millions of Americans.

Governor Beshear (D) of Kentucky has made the Medicaid expansion a key component of his administration. He quickly accepted ACA realizing that the 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians would be able to get insurance through Medicaid expansion and coverage through the health benefit exchanges.

Every American citizen over the voting age of 18 has the right to vote for a Democrat, a Republican or someone from one of the smaller parties. But, if you vote for a Republican… beware of what you might lose as a result.


By: Gerry Myers, CEO, President and Co-founder of Advisory Link; The Huffington Post Blog, May 26, 2014


May 27, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Medicaid Expansion, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Friends Don’t Let Friends Run For President”: A Muddled Indictment Of GOP Senators By GOP Senators

Today’s most decidedly peculiar article is one by The Hill‘s Alexander Burns reporting that Republican senators really hate the idea of Republican senators running for president in 2016.

Fearful of a third successive Democratic triumph, concerned Senate Republicans are turning against 2016 presidential bids by upstart hopefuls within their own ranks.

In forceful comments to The Hill, GOP senators made it plain that they would much prefer their party nominate a current or former governor over Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Marco Rubio (Fla.) or Rand Paul (Ky.).

Those senators have created a buzz among conservative activists, but their colleagues in the upper chamber are eager to support a nominee from outside Washington with a record of attracting independents and centrist Democrats.

They worry that Washington has become so toxic that it could poison the chances of any nominee from Congress in 2016.

Now there are obviously multiple thoughts at play in this muddled indictment of senators by senators. Is the problem the particular “upstart” senators who are thinking about running (and is Establishment darling Rubio really an “upstart”?)? Are governors generally a better idea, or only those with “a record of attracting independents and centrist Democrats”? After all, senators run statewide just like governors do, and if you think about the GOP governors who may run in 2016, several (Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal) aren’t exactly famous for “attracting independents and centrist Democrats,” are they?

Interestingly, the most forceful senator on the record in this piece as deploring his peers as presidential candidates is Chuck Grassley, from a state that will have more than a bit of influence in culling the GOP field. Dean Heller is from another early state. But from reading Bolton’s piece, you’d think these worthies are speaking strictly from an abstract point of view.

Bolton offers the obligatory history lesson: Warren Harding was the last Republican to go straight from the Senate to the White House; the last three senators to win the GOP nomination (Goldwater, Dole and McCain) all got waxed. To read this account, you’d think maybe the GOP might have won in 2008 if the governor on the ticket had been the presidential nominee. Nor does the article’s “executives inherently do better” line tested against the reality that the 2012 cycle’s most spectacular flame-outs–Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry–were both governors.

In any event, the senators-say-don’t-run-a-senator meme strikes me as just a data point for opposing candidates you don’t like for other reasons. The way contemporary politics works, all the handicaps senators used to face–particularly the inability to stand out in a body of 100 bloviators–have pretty much been obliterated by different standards of media access, which is how Ted Cruz became presidential timber so very fast. So don’t tell me about Warren Harding or even Bob Dole: once a pol has been elevated by party and media elites and public opinion into someone being Seriously Mentioned for a presidential run, it’s not that clear his or her day job matters all that crucially, except as a scheduling problem.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 6, 2014

May 10, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP Governors Hurting Their Own”: The Latest Plot To Undermine Obamacare And Prevent Millions From Enrolling In Medicaid

It’s actually quite easy to explain. The reason why 19 states have refused to expand Medicaid has nothing to do with the cost — the federal government would cover the full cost of the expansion for the next two years, then 95 percent of the cost thereafter. It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with a lack of need for such a solution. This, as with the refusal to establish health care marketplaces (exchanges), has everything to do with Obama Derangement Syndrome — Republican governors who refuse for a variety of cheap political excuses to attach their names to Obamacare. By doing so, they’re hurting their own people, including Republican voters by numbers into the hundreds of thousands per state.

The Affordable Care Act originally mandated that all states expand Medicaid eligibility from 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 138 percent of FPL. In other words, the government had previously established an income threshold for what constituted poverty: below the line and you’re considered poor and therefore eligible for certain safety-net benefits; above the line and you’re more or less on your own. But Obamacare raised the poverty threshold to qualify for Medicaid coverage, thus expanding Medicaid nationwide — until the Supreme Court ruled against that part of the law in 2012, allowing states to opt out of the expansion.

That’s a massive problem.

4.8 million Americans have incomes higher than the 100 percent threshold, so they don’t qualify for Medicaid without the expansion, but they don’t earn enough to qualify for health insurance premium subsidies through the marketplaces. The ACA was written with a nationwide Medicaid expansion in mind so the law’s premium subsidies only kick in where Medicaid coverage was supposed to leave off, after 138 percent of FPL. Hence the coverage gap.

In Kansas alone, home of climate and science denier Gov. Sam Brownback, there are 77,000 residents trapped in the coverage gap. 77,000 people who have no choice but to go without insurance and medical care, all because Brownback refuses to touch Obamacare with a 10-foot pole, either because of his raging ODS or because he and his fellow red state governors prefer to sabotage the law or both.

By the way, Medicaid expansion in Kansas is supported by 59 percent… of Republicans. Republicans! It’s supported by 72 percent of all voters.

In Georgia, there are around 400,000 residents in the gap, and no sign that Gov. Nathan Deal will participate in the expansion in spite of the fact that 54 percent of Georgians support it. 400,000 is a lot of people, and they’re being denied insurance in order for Deal to prove his quality to the extreme flank of his party.

In fact, Brownback and Deal are so maniacal about blocking the very popular expansion of Medicaid, they’re each lining up to sign recently passed legislation that would block future Democratic governors from expanding Medicaid without the approval of the solidly GOP state legislatures in each state.

In other words, GOP lawmakers have taken steps to guarantee that many of their poorest residents will remain uninsured under the health care reform law, no matter what happens in the gubernatorial election.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) both oppose Medicaid expansion. They both look likely — if not quite certain — to win re-election in November. That should make the bills passed by their respective state lawmakers unnecessary, but they seem intent on guarding against even the remote possibility of a Democratic governor.

Actually, the possibility of Democratic victories aren’t as remote as Talking Points Memo reported. Polls in both races are neck-and-neck, with PPP showing a slight advantage for the Democratic challengers to Brownback and Deal, Paul Davis in Kansas and state senator Jason Carter (grandson of former President Carter) in Georgia. And there it is: a possible explanation for the laws.

This is how far they’re reaching to stymie evil, evil Obamacare. Not only are they refusing to create state-run exchanges, oddly ceding state power to the federal government, but they’re refusing to allow the expansion of Medicaid, even though they don’t have to spend a penny to do it — worse, they’re passing laws that will prevent others from doing it, too. It’s yet another way to sabotage the law in a long list of plots to undermine it.

So, what are the consequences?

On Wednesday, the Orlando Weekly published the explosive and infuriating story of Charlene Dill, a struggling, 32-year-old mother of three who collapsed and died on a stranger’s floor late last month. According to Weekly reporter Billy Manes, Dill suffered from a treatable heart condition. She also fell into what policy experts call the Medicaid coverage gap–a hole the Supreme Court punctured in the health safety net when seven of its justices rendered the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion entirely voluntary.

We have no choice but to call this what it is: death by Obama Derangement Syndrome.


By: Bob Cesca, Managing Editor for The Daily Banter; Published in The Huffington Post, April 28, 2014

May 1, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Medicaid Expansion, Obamacare | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Health Care Nightmares”: There’s An Extraordinary Ugliness Of Spirit Abroad In Today’s GOP America

When it comes to health reform, Republicans suffer from delusions of disaster. They know, just know, that the Affordable Care Act is doomed to utter failure, so failure is what they see, never mind the facts on the ground.

Thus, on Tuesday, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, dismissed the push for pay equity as an attempt to “change the subject from the nightmare of Obamacare”; on the same day, the nonpartisan RAND Corporation released a study estimating “a net gain of 9.3 million in the number of American adults with health insurance coverage from September 2013 to mid-March 2014.” Some nightmare. And the overall gain, including children and those who signed up during the late-March enrollment surge, must be considerably larger.

But while Obamacare is looking like anything but a nightmare, there are indeed some nightmarish things happening on the health care front. For it turns out that there’s a startling ugliness of spirit abroad in modern America — and health reform has brought that ugliness out into the open.

Let’s start with the good news about reform, which keeps coming in. First, there was the amazing come-from-behind surge in enrollments. Then there were a series of surveys — from Gallup, the Urban Institute, and RAND — all suggesting large gains in coverage. Taken individually, any one of these indicators might be dismissed as an outlier, but taken together they paint an unmistakable picture of major progress.

But wait: What about all the people who lost their policies thanks to Obamacare? The answer is that this looks more than ever like a relatively small issue hyped by right-wing propaganda. RAND finds that fewer than a million people who previously had individual insurance became uninsured — and many of those transitions, one guesses, had nothing to do with Obamacare. It’s worth noting that, so far, not one of the supposed horror stories touted in Koch-backed anti-reform advertisements has stood up to scrutiny, suggesting that real horror stories are rare.

It will be months before we have a full picture, but it’s clear that the number of uninsured Americans has already dropped significantly — not least in Mr. McConnell’s home state. It appears that around 40 percent of Kentucky’s uninsured population has already gained coverage, and we can expect a lot more people to sign up next year.

Republicans clearly have no idea how to respond to these developments. They can’t offer any real alternative to Obamacare, because you can’t achieve the good stuff in the Affordable Care Act, like coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions, without also including the stuff they hate, the requirement that everyone buy insurance and the subsidies that make that requirement possible. Their political strategy has been to talk vaguely about replacing reform while waiting for its inevitable collapse. And what if reform doesn’t collapse? They have no idea what to do.

At the state level, however, Republican governors and legislators are still in a position to block the act’s expansion of Medicaid, denying health care to millions of vulnerable Americans. And they have seized that opportunity with gusto: Most Republican-controlled states, totaling half the nation, have rejected Medicaid expansion. And it shows. The number of uninsured Americans is dropping much faster in states accepting Medicaid expansion than in states rejecting it.

What’s amazing about this wave of rejection is that it appears to be motivated by pure spite. The federal government is prepared to pay for Medicaid expansion, so it would cost the states nothing, and would, in fact, provide an inflow of dollars. The health economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the principal architects of health reform — and normally a very mild-mannered guy — recently summed it up: The Medicaid-rejection states “are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its evilness.” Indeed.

And while supposed Obamacare horror stories keep on turning out to be false, it’s already quite easy to find examples of people who died because their states refused to expand Medicaid. According to one recent study, the death toll from Medicaid rejection is likely to run between 7,000 and 17,000 Americans each year.

But nobody expects to see a lot of prominent Republicans declaring that rejecting Medicaid expansion is wrong, that caring for Americans in need is more important than scoring political points against the Obama administration. As I said, there’s an extraordinary ugliness of spirit abroad in today’s America, which health reform has brought out into the open.

And that revelation, not reform itself — which is going pretty well — is the real Obamacare nightmare.

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, April, 11, 2014

April 11, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, GOP, Medicaid Expansion | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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