Who will pay the cost of healthcare for indigent Floridians has brought our state government to a halt. The House didn’t like what the Senate was doing with healthcare so they just packed their bags and closed the House of Representatives three days before the scheduled end of the session.
To the nation we must appear, once again, to be run by a bunch of buffoons. It’s not like we have a Republican House fighting a Democrat Senate. That I could understand. No, the House and the Senate are both heavily controlled by the Republican Party.
House Democrats immediately went to the Florida Supreme Court and said “put the House back to work.” The Supreme Court agreed that the House violated the state constitution “but there wasn’t any sense making them go back to work as the session would end in one day.”
So what is all the fuss about? Last year the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington advised Florida that it was discontinuing the Low Income Pool (LLP), which helped states reimburse hospitals for their service to indigents. They said that they would be replacing it with an expanded Medicaid. Gov. Scott accepted the logic of the expanded Medicaid in this instance notwithstanding the fact that he is vehemently opposed to expanded Medicaid.
Here’s the problem: The House opposes the Medicaid expansion. The Senate supports the idea. The two houses couldn’t come to any form of the compromise so the House literally picked up its marbles, close early and went home.
Why didn’t the elected leader of our state government, Rick Scott, call the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House into his office and say “Okay you guys, we are all Republicans. We all have the same basic concept on running our government. Let’s work this out! Don’t make yourselves look like a bunch of fools!”
What does our governor do? Well, he doesn’t do anything with the two leaders. Rather he goes to Washington and meets with Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of HHS. She listens to his request for an extension and says “no.” Meanwhile in Tallahassee the governor has the state sue the federal government to force them into a continued funding. I am sure this law suit, like all the others he has initiated, will end up a loss for the state and just another legal bill for taxpayers to absorb.
Next our governor, suggesting that Florida’s hospitals are making too much money and don’t need the government’s reimbursement, creates a “committee” to review salaries, expenses and profits to determine if hospitals really need the money. He hasn’t named the committee’s members as of this date but I can picture a one-sided group that will say “Good heavens, no, governor, hospitals are making too much money. They can absorb the cost of providing health care for the indigents.” Hospitals will not bear the cost. We, paying patients, will bear the cost with increased charges for services rendered.
There is another side to the standoff between the two houses. Bills that were in committee, bills that should have been voted upon by the House and gone to compromise between the two houses will never see the light of day this session.
Some examples: Water conservation through the recently passed Amendment One to the Florida Constitution, a proposed corporate tax cut, reform of the Public Service Commission, more money for education, fracking control, prison reform, on line voter registration and many other bills needing a Senate compromise and the governor’s signature. The legislature will reconvene for a “special” session in June but only to pass a budget. Nothing else will be considered.
Broward County’s public hospital is already planning for a $180 million cut – nonessential services will go. We really need our governor to step in and take control of this fiasco. We don’t need a 21st century rendition of Nero fiddling while Rome (our Florida) burns.
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