Dear Governor Scott,
This weekend presents a terrific opportunity for you to visit with either (or both) President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence, as both have stated intentions to visit our beautiful state. Vice President Pence will be in Jacksonville and President Trump for another weekend at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach. We think that would be a great opportunity to speak up for all of Floridians who are about to lose their health insurance and health care, but all of a sudden you seem to have lost your voice on what we argue is the most important topic to your constituents, and certainly one of your favorite topics.
You have made it no secret that you hate Obamacare and want it gone. Although you were once in favor of expanding Medicaid, you at some point backed down to more conservative legislators in past years and Florida remains one of 19 states to not expand. Governor, you have proudly promoted your wonderful relationships with the new President of the United States and his team, and you’ve made multiple trips to Washington DC to participate in the discussions promoting “Repeal and Replace” of the Affordable Care Act. You have their ears. You were all bubbly about it in recent months, you even wrote newspaper columns about how bad things were in USA Today and on CNN.com. You wrote a similar letter to Congress demanding immediate repeal, no matter the consequences. (Which Florida CHAIN shared their thoughts with you on). Here are some quotes attributed to you from right before the Inauguration in a Miami Herald article:
“Kicking off a series of meetings with incoming Trump administration officials, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday he hopes to help them devise a less costly alternative to Obamacare. Scott said he’s talking with Donald Trump every week or two while working closely with Rep. Tom Price, the president-elect’s choice to run the government agency that oversees Medicaid, Medicare and the landmark 2010 health-insurance law. Mirroring previous comments by Trump himself, Scott indicated that the two men are not looking to repeal the entire law, unlike some fellow Republican members of Congress.”
Then the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office issued their report on the recently released, formerly top-secret Republican plan, and you seemed to have lost your strong voice. Or found other things to focus on, like Enterprise Florida and Tourism dollars you are fighting for. Important topics for sure, but we’re here to remind you that this health care stuff is kind of still important to Floridians, Governor.
“We’re one of the oldest states in the country, and you would think the Florida delegation (insert: AND GOVERNOR) would be very concerned about the impact,” said Jeff Johnson, AARP state director. “People think everyone is 85 and playing golf, but Florida has a very large baby boomer population. Some of them still have kids in college. Just about all of them are still in the workforce. An underlying fear, Johnson said, is older people would postpone treatment until they can enter Medicare at age 65, placing greater burden on that system.” Tampa Bay Times, March 15, 2017
The last anyone heard from you about the raging health care debate was on Tuesday:
“Scott would not answer specific questions on the new study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that estimates the GOP plan would increase the ranks of the uninsured by 14 million people next year alone, and 24 million over a decade. He is also refusing to delve into the possible impact the bill may have on Florida’s Medicaid program, which relies on billions in federal aid each year.” Tampa Bay Times, March 17, 2017
Yesterday, the Florida House Democratic Caucus called on you to speak up:
“…after the CBO came out with their score card earlier this week that said that the GOP plan would raise the number of uninsured to 24 million over a decade and could have a huge impact on Florida’s Medicaid program, the governor has been silent. Florida House Democrats now say it’s time for him to speak up. “Rather than acting as a leader, the Governor took the path of a typical politician and ducked the question entirely,” says House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz. “If Governor Scott isn’t prepared to defend ‘Trumpcare,’ he at least owes Floridians an explanation about what exactly he’s been discussing with Republican leadership during his taxpayer funded trips to Washington DC.” SaintPetersBlog.com, March 16, 2017
We also think, Governor Scott, that you need to quickly find your voice again on health care so you can tell your constituents exactly where you stand on some of the findings from the CBO report, like:
▪ An AARP analysis found that estimated 450,000 Floridians between 50 and 64 would face higher premiums under the AHCA — more than any other state.
▪ also from AARP’s study, reductions in tax credits for Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 would range from $830 a year to about $5,850 a year for a standard plan sold on the ACA exchange at healthcare.gov.
“The hardest hit would be those who are older and with the lowest incomes, a considerable demographic in Florida, said David Bruns, an AARP spokesman. “Florida, as everybody knows, has a pretty gray population and the highest percentage of people 65 and older of any state in the nation,” Bruns said.” Miami Herald, March 17, 2017
▪ Most of the 1.74 million Floridians signed up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act exchange at healthcare.gov will be unable to afford their plans under the Republican proposal.
▪ An estimated 4.3 million children, pregnant women, low-income elderly and disabled Floridians covered by Medicaid would see reductions in care and access to programs.
▪ Hospitals with high numbers of uninsured and Medicaid patients will be forced to cut back on services and pass along cost increases to other, insured patients.
“’There are significant consequences for Florida,’ said Steven Ullmann, a University of Miami expert on health policy”. – Miami Herald, March 14, 2017
While this is certainly nothing to make light of, we find it funny that there are rumors that after winning two terms as Governor of our state, that you may have plans to run for Senator, challenging Bill Nelson in 2018. What’s not so funny is that all of the people affected by the pending Repeal and Replace legislation are likely Florida voters, some for the first time, some even crawling out of their sick beds to vote against you, Rick Scott, the governor who lost his voice when it came time to stand up for his constituents who lost their insurance.
Can we get you a throat lozenge, Governor?