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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Republicans have a Medicaid problem.

Beginning in 2014, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs to expand Medicaid to cover millions of Americans who can’t afford health insurance, as a part of the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court decided that states can turn this expansion down, thus denying their state’s residents health care that wealthy residents will be paying for anyway.

So how do you explain to your constituents that you’re depriving them of health insurance that could possibly save their lives?

Especially when the states who are turning the expansion down are the ones who need it most?

Florida’s Republican governor Rick Scott has decided just to not tell the truth.

According to Health News Florida, “Scott says he opposes expanding Florida Medicaid because it would cost too much: $63 billion over 10 years, he says, with the state paying $26 billion of that.” 

This is simply a lie based on report that came from Scott’s advisor Michael Anway. Scott had been warned that the report was incorrect by legislative budget analyst and state economist Amy Baker. Anway, who is what OpenSecrets.org calls a “revolving door” lobbyist who alternates back and forth between industry and government, is using the Medicaid reimbursement rate of 58 percent from the last 20 years instead of the 100 percent rate that will begin in 2014 based on the Affordable Care Act.

Anway’s reasoning could have come straight out of an email from your Tea Partying uncle: “The federal government has a $16 trillion national debt, must borrow 46 cents of every dollar it spends, and in 2011 had its credit rating downgraded for the first time in history.”

And this isn’t the first time Scott has been caaught passing off falsehoods about Medicaid expansion. In July, 2012, Politifact noted that Scott was grossly overestimating the costs to the state.

Scott’s dissembling on Medicaid shouldn’t be a surprise, given his history with Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Before he became governor, Scott served as CEO of the for-profit hospital chain Columbia/HCA.

“Columbia became the center of a nationwide federal health fraud investigation in the mid-1990s, before settling for $1.7 billion amidst allegations the chain of hospitals defrauded government health programs including Medicare and Medicaid,” according to Forbes.com. “Scott eventually resigned under intense board pressure in 1997 as the investigation swirled around him.”

Scott’s lies doesn’t quite meet the definition of Medicaid fraud, but they are a serious reminder of what a political bind Scott will be in if the estimated 950,000 to 1.3 million Floridians who could be receiving free health care find out the truth that the governor is trying to keep from them.

 Photo credit:  Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com

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