Florida Governor Rick Scott’s sudden flip-flop in embracing Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid has become a colossal belly-flop.
As I wrote for NRO on Monday, Governor Scott gave almost no notice to his fellow Republicans that he was dropping his long-held opposition. Everyone from house speaker Will Weatherford to attorney general Pam Bondi expressed disappointment that he would sign on to expand a substandard federal program whose low reimbursement rates will almost certainly encourage hospitals to respond by raising private insurance rates.
This week, the state legislature began taking apart Governor Scott’s proposal. A senate committee postponed action, in a sign that its members have many questions about the ability of the federal government to meet its commitment to pay for almost all of the expansion costs. In the house, a special committee voted ten to five to reject any Medicaid expansion. “It will not lead to a lower number of uninsured . . . more would move from private insurance to public assistance,” representative Travis Cummings of Orange Park told the committee. Citing evidence from Maine and Arizona, he and others suggested Florida’s uninsured would rather take advantage of tax credits to get on a private plan than join Medicaid.
Governor Scott was lauded in a front-page New York Times story this week for his willingness to “tack left.” But back home, that wrong turn seems to have him heading for a brick wall called political reality.