Florida Republicans May Have Just Signed Death Warrants For Almost A Million Of The State’s Working Poor

For months, Republicans in Florida had been entrenched in a contentious battle over the state’s healthcare system. When you hear “fight over healthcare” you may immediately assume that Republicans were battling just Democrats, but oddly they were fighting with each other too. Now, the war is over and the losers are almost a million of the state’s working poor.

After a heated six-hour debate on Friday, House Republicans voted 72-41 against a Senate bill to expand Medicaid to roughly 800,000 low-income citizens. The Senate wanted to expand the program and offer people the opportunity to buy health insurance from private companies in a statewide exchange, but the House (overrun by  members of the Tea Party) said no.

Governor Skeletor, whose reelection campaign largely focused on offering the poor health insurance, turned his back on the voters who reelected him to side with the House and their plan to kill the poor.

The battle over Medicaid expansion in the Sunshine State got really ugly in the last month or so and had everyone bracing for a possible government shutdown. Last month it was so bad that members of the House violated that state’s sacred Sunshine Law by banning the press from a meeting about the expansion. Then, making matters worse, they stormed out of a budget negotiation, forcing Skeletor to hold special legislative session.

Friday’s vote marks the third time Florida Republicans have refused to expand the program since the Affordable Healthcare Act went into effect. They have continually denied people the comfort of health insurance in a state with the second highest number of uninsured citizens, but this time they didn’t just hurt the poor, they hurt hospitals too.

You see, as a way to force red states, who hate the poor, to expand Medicaid, Obama has said he will cut the federal funds in the Low Income Pool (LIP) in state’s that don’t expand. This means hospitals will receive fewer reimbursement dollars for the patients who are treated but unable to pay. In April, Scott threatened to sue the president if he went through with his threats and even said it is Obama hurting the poor:

“Not only does President Obama’s end to LIP funding in Florida violate the law by crossing the line into a coercion tactic for Obamacare, it also threatens poor families’ access to the safety net healthcare services they need.”[Source]

Yes, yes, it’s Obama who is threatening the poor by putting pressure on Florida to expand its healthcare program. Seems legit.

This is what’s pitting Republicans against each other. The leader of the Senate Republicans, Andy Gardiner, has said that House Republicans and Scott are putting the entire state budget at risk by not expanding the program and taking federal money:

“It really puts everything at risk,” Gardiner said. “It jeopardizes the tax cuts, it jeopardizes increases in education funding, it jeopardizes our priorities.”

Education?! Who cares about that! Certainly not the House Republicans who are keeping healthcare out of the hands of people who desperately need it.

As a citizen of Florida, I can testify to the horrendous healthcare system. If you are a “lucky” member of the working poor who qualifies for Medicaid then you have undoubtedly wanted to rip your hair out a time or two. It sometimes takes months to get an appointment at one of the state’s overcrowded clinics, but at least you had insurance to cover it.

If you are not one of those lucky Medicaid recipients, you’re pretty much screwed. Many people go without seeing a doctor for years, because they can’t afford annual checkups. In a state with one of the highest rates of skin cancer that can spell disaster and even death.

Rick Scott and House Republicans are likely celebrating today. They have proven time and again that they abhor the poor people in their state. By voting against the expansion, they may well have signed the death warrants for thousands of people and possibly screwed up the entire budget.

Thanks Republicans!

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