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The Vacuous Cynicism of Florida Republicans Who Oppose the Medicaid Expansion

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mr-plow3_

Jon Cohn has a good piece on Florida Republicans painting themselves into a corner on the Medicaid expansion:

To put it another way, expanding Medicaid in Florida would likely require a net investment by state taxpayers that, over the course of a decade, would work out to less than a half-billion dollars a year. That’s without accounting for any additional growth and tax revenues that the huge infusion of federal dollars might provide. That’s also without accounting for the more than $1 billion a year in that, without expanding Medicaid, Florida would probably have to scrounge up in order to help hospitals defray the cost of charity care.

In short, if the numbers were lopsided in favor of expanding Medicaid before, they are even more lopsided now. And it’s not as if anybody is arguing seriously that those grants are a superior way of financing care for the poor. If anything, the opposite is true — and it’s one reason the editorial page of the Tampa Bay Times called Scott’s position “indefensible.” Other editorial pages, civic organizations, and business groups across the state have made similar statements.

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No, the level of hostility to Obamacare makes very little sense — unless it’s about something beyond the policy particulars. It could be the fact that Democrats finally accomplished something big, for the first time in several decades, thereby expanding the welfare state at a time when conservatives thought they were on their way to shrinking it. Or it could be the idea that, on net, the Affordable Care Act transfers resources away from richer, whiter people to poorer, darker people. Or it could be the fact that “Obamacare” contains the word “Obama,” whose legitimacy as president at least some conservatives just can’t accept.

Who knows? The only thing certain is that, in Florida, turning down Medicaid has even weaker logic than it did before — except for officials obsessed with Obamacare or determined to please the people who are. Rick Scott may belong in either category and he might just belong in both.

Greg Sargent observes that one anti-Medicaid-expansion Florida rep “chanted ‘liberty’ as he walked past reporters camped in the hallway.” Poor people suffering and dying because they lack access to health care is not a “liberty” that should be valued very highly. But, as Sargent says, the rather obvious problem here is that there isn’t even any such principle involved. Scott and his allies aren’t opposed in principle to the federal government giving Florida money to cover health care for poor people. They’re opposed to the federal government giving Florida money to cover health care for poor people if it’s done via “Obamacare.” It’s pretty hard to argue that there’s some sort of major liberty interest involved when you’re literally making (idiotic) arguments that the state of Florida is constitutionality entitled to federal health care grants.

Evidently, exposing the empty, posturing mendacity of the Florida Republicans who oppose the Medicaid expansion won’t be much consolation to the poor people who will be denied health care in the short term. But eventually (particularly after Obama leaves office), more and more states are going to start taking the money.

Speaking of which, it looks like despite the barrage of money from the lavishly taxpayer-subsidized Koch brothers Montana will be taking the Medicaid expansion. Not in an ideal form, but still a major improvement on the status quo. Every state counts.

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