League of Women Voters challenges Scott on health care

The President of the League of Women Voters of Florida called Gov. Rick Scott’s announcement casting doubt on a Senate plan to help 800,000 of Florida’s low-income workers get health-care coverage “a sucker punch for all Floridians.”

“With all the positive momentum from business and bi-partisan political leaders expressing support for taking Florida’s money, Governor Scott’s hopefully temporary lapse of support is bad news for Florida,” Deirdre Macnab said Monday. “This issue effects everyone. If the working-poor are left without coverage, hospitals will have to continue to shift the cost of treating the uninsured to the insured, with experts having already identified an 8% cost shift to those with insurance. Continuing to refuse to take these Florida tax dollars, now held by the Federal government and going to other states, means that healthcare costs will only increase and put some hospitals at risk of closing.”

Macnab said that although Scott announced in 2013 that he supported taking $51 billion in federal funds for health-care expansion, he has continued to be “conspicuous by his absence when health care was discussed, a key economic opportunity for the state as shown by growing business support.”

Macnab charged he was also ignoring the fact that the Federal government has given Florida and every other state years of warning that the LIP funds, which cover catastrophic care, would be substituted by the medicaid expansion funds which are designed to provide a preventive approach, thus working to reduce emergency room treatment and prevent healthcare from being administered when health problems escalate to their most painful and expensive point.

Today Joan Alker, Executive Director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families released a statement that said:

The federal government has been clear for some time that the LIP would not be renewed “as is” given the dramatic changes in the health coverage landscape and problems with the LIP. The state continued to maintain that nothing needed to change despite abundant evidence to the contrary.
Nobody in the state should be surprised that that LIP money will not continue at its current levels.

An alternative free market proposal to expand Medicaid being pushed by Sen. President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, has become part of key budget negotiations with the House. But Scott said Monday he was concerned that on June 30 the federal government would cease funding the $2.2 billion Low Income Pool, a Medicaid program paying hospitals for care for low-income and uninsured patients, something the Feds have signaled for years they would do,

If the LIP funding was cut off it “would be hard to understand how the state could take on even more federal programs that CMS (the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) could scale back or walk away from,” Scott said in a statement first released to the Associated Press.

With the clock ticking to the end of session, Floridians should call upon Governor Scott to ensure he sees the economic imperative in taking Florida’s tax money and putting it back to work in Florida.