Florida Dems: GOP Failure to Expand Medicaid Equals Six Deaths a Day (Updated)

Categories: Broward News

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Heartened by Obamacare's hitting the 7 million enrollment mark needed to make the system work, Florida Democrats are making a renewed push for a key element of the program, Medicaid expansion. It is likely to be a major issue in the fall elections.

See also:
- Florida Is Becoming an Unlikely Obamacare Success Story

"We're losing out on seven to ten million dollars a day, tax money sent to the federal government that other states will now get," Fort Lauderdale Rep. Perry Thurston, House minority leader, told New Times in a phone interview yesterday. "It was rejected by the Republican leadership on purely ideological grounds."

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West Palm Beach Rep. Mark Pafford, next in line for Thurston's post, was equally fervent in a phone interview and on social media. "The speaker's stance was really tragic," Pafford said, referring to GOP House chieftain Will Weatherford. "It may be responsible for the deaths of as many as six Floridians a day. It's a horrible thing to live with."

That "six deaths a day" number has been making the rounds nationally and is based on a study written by researchers from Harvard and the City University of New York. They estimated Florida would avoid at least 1,158 deaths and as many as 2,221 deaths annually if it expanded Medicaid as contemplated by the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare, as initially enacted.

(UPDATE: The study has been vetted by Politifact, which found no expert who would say its conclusions are fundamentally untrue. Politifact rated the "six deaths" claim a "half-truth" but whatever the untrue part is, it is not the assertion that failure to expand Medicaid will increase morbidity and mortality in Florida. That was undisputed.)

The other key number involved in Medicaid expansion is much bigger: 50,000,000,000. That's how many federal dollars would have flowed to Florida over the next ten years if the state had instituted the expansion. The GOP-controlled House turned its back on the money last year after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to opt out of that part of the ACA.

Gov. Rick Scott has flip-flopped on the issue more times than a pancake house, opposing expansion, then speaking out for it, but ultimately standing back while his party sank it in the House. "The governor has tremendous power but was silent," Pafford said. "Was he afraid to lose face?"

Weatherford last fall called Medicaid "one of the worst forms of insurance you can get in America." This even though his own family benefited from the program to the tune of 100 large. (UPDATE: We have tried repeatedly to reach Weatherford for comment. No reply.)

Charlie Crist, at this point the likely Democratic candidate for governor, has also picked up on the "six deaths a day" meme, slamming Scott on the issue. "He didn't even try," Crist told NBC news. "That means that six people in Florida die every day... It's not hard to figure out. If people are sick and they're not getting health care, they usually get even sicker. Or they die."

Democratic efforts to enact Medicaid expansion were bottled up again in the Legislature last month. Greatly outnumbered, House Dems could do little more than vote no on the first version of the state budget, a symbolic gesture.

The issue is not going away, however, both because of public support and because Obamacare's apparent victory has reinvigorated Democrats.

"Florida's Obamacare enrollment numbers should go hand-in-hand with Medicaid expansion," Pafford said. "I hope it becomes an organized effort."

"Voting against the budget was the least we could do to express our disgust," Thurston said. "Democrats now should realize that Obamacare is something to embrace. Medicaid expansion is the next logical step."

Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers public affairs and culture in Palm Beach County and elsewhere. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.





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18 comments
DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Repuglykkkan Health Care = If you can't afford to pay ca$h, then don't get sick.



winsomelosesome
winsomelosesome topcommenter

Ever think of getting Weatherford's reaction to the "6 deaths a day" demagoging? Or would that require too much journalistic ethics?

fire.ant
fire.ant topcommenter

@winsomelosesome

To cite a well-thought through, modestly written research paper is demagoguery?
I don't think so. Especially when the paper (for which the article above provides a link) includes an extensive back-and-forth between the authors and a number of their critics, and was further vetted by Politifact, who found no expert who would say the paper's conclusions are fundamentally wrong.
Politifact rated the "six deaths" claim a "half-truth" but whatever the untrue part is, it is not the assertion that failure to expand Medicaid will increase morbidity and mortality in Florida. That remains undisputed.

If the Speaker wants to be the first to claim otherwise, I'll update the story. His office knows how to reach me.

winsomelosesome
winsomelosesome topcommenter

@fire.ant


"His office knows how to reach me."  Hahaha.  Oh the hubris.  Just pick up the phone and call. Of course then you would have to hear another point of view from someone intimately involved. If he does not want to give a statement...print that.  It is the minimum you should have done.



fire.ant
fire.ant topcommenter

@winsomelosesome @fire.ant


All respect to your wife (saintly woman that she must be) but public engagement on the issues of the day is "a life."
You're always welcome here, not least because it keeps me on my toes.
Peace.

winsomelosesome
winsomelosesome topcommenter

@fire.ant

My wife's right.  You do this for a living.  I do it because it irritates me.

Her lesson for me..........Get a life.  Think she's right.

Cya

winsomelosesome
winsomelosesome topcommenter

@fire.ant

Soak the rich...That's the extent of your soul searching.  If they have it, they must have done something illegal to get it and ole' Fire Ant is gonna flush 'em out and make them fork it over by god. Crusaders............The worst.

fire.ant
fire.ant topcommenter

@winsomelosesome

None? Or "none that can be proved"? LOL. How comforting for you.

Eat the poor! That's the extent of your "soul searching."

winsomelosesome
winsomelosesome topcommenter

@fire.ant @winsomelosesome

"how many needless deaths do you think Weatherford's Medicaid expansion rejection has caused since we started this exchange?"

I think none that can be proved. 

And I have been around much longer than you and have done my share of soul searching.  I can look at myself in the mirror with ease at this stage of my life.  I fear your years of that process are till coming. 

Winsome out

fire.ant
fire.ant topcommenter

@winsomelosesome @fire.ant

You got your update, pal. Now look in the mirror. One of us can self-correct and it aint you.
So, how many needless deaths do you think Weatherford's Medicaid expansion rejection has caused since we started this exchange? Or would you rather continue to ignore that?

fire.ant
fire.ant topcommenter

@winsomelosesome
My "prejudice" in favor of the disempowered and exploited is no secret, Sherlock. It's why I do this.
Maybe you could show some concern for Weatherford's victims instead of indulging your resentments.

winsomelosesome
winsomelosesome topcommenter

@fire.ant 


Good update. And your political prejudices are always on display

fire.ant
fire.ant topcommenter

@winsomelosesome @fire.ant  

Let me get this straight:

The Speaker withholds medical care from hundreds of thousands of Floridians and you're all worked up that New Times' readers weren't told his office failed to respond to a request for comment? It's so unfair! Your priorities are showing.


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