Scott suing Federal government on low-income pool for hospitals

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ROGER CALDWELL
GUEST COLUMNIST

Gov. Rick Scott is a complex politician because sometimes he wants money from the Federal government and other times he refuses money from them. This is very confusing to Floridians, and many times he refuses to explain his position to residents in the state.

For over a year, our governor knew that the federal government warned states that the low-income pool program was going to end in June 2015. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was intended to provide hospitals with more paying customers because there were less uninsured folks to cover. As a result, the president expected there would be no need for a low-income pool program.

A big mess
But the Supreme Court’s decision allowing states to decide whether or not to expand Medicaid has made a mess of the president’s plan. The 2012 ruling by the Supreme Court bars the federal government from forcing states into expanding Medicaid. Governor Scott claims that the federal government is putting pressure on Florida to expand Medicaid in order to get funding for the low-income pool.

Some political experts think Scott’s position is ridiculous, but our governor is always ready to fight President Obama and the federal government, even when he is wrong. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa said Scott was “not playing it straight. The state of Florida has known for a year that LIP funding is expiring, and this hypercritical stunt by Governor Scott will do nothing to serve our neighbors, Florida hospitals, or Florida businesses.”

There is now confusion in this Florida legislative session because the House is refusing to expand Medicaid and the Senate is proposing a compromise which expands Medicaid. Since there are just days left in the session, the two are gridlocked.

Selective decisions
On one hand, Scott wants to sue the federal government for ending the low-income pool, but on the other hand, he states that the federal government can’t be trusted to foot the bill for the ACA. Here again, Scott is selectively deciding when it is OK to accept funding from the federal government, and when it is not.

“It is difficult to understand how suing CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) on day 45 of a 60-day session regarding an issue the state has been aware of for the last 12 months will yield a timely resolution to the critical health care challenges facing our state. The federal government has no obligation to provide the hospitals funds,” says Republican Senate President Andy Gardiner.

As time runs out in the 2015 legislative session, suing the federal government makes very little sense, and will probably be unproductive. Florida is looking at a $1.3 billion budget gap, and that is where the two Houses should start in terms of their negotiation.

Governor Scott can blast the federal government, but the two Houses must come together and present the governor with a balanced budget. The residents must come first, and our representatives were voted in to do a job. The governor needs to help resolve the problems with the budget in the two Houses, and worry about suing the federal government when the legislative session has completed its work.

Roger Caldwell is the CEO and founder of On-Point Media Group.

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