Just when you thought the health care battle was over, Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) was the first governor to announce that he will not accept approximately $1.9 billion dollars in Medicaid funds allocated to his state by the Affordable Care Act. The full act does not take effect until January 1, 2014, unless it is repealed before then and states are not required to begin implementation before the November election. Scott is opting the state out of the two optional provisions of the law which are the Medicaid entitlement expansion and the building of insurance exchanges.
Although Florida does have health care programs for citizens with incomes up to 133% of the poverty line, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act enables children to stay covered under their parents' insurance until age 26, while Florida KidCare only keeps children covered until the age of 18. How many families will be unable to afford full priced coverage because Scott denied them subsidized insurance?
The second provision offers building insurance exchanges that result in higher insurance premium costs that will be a burden on Florida citizens instead of the federal government. Scott said, "The real problem with health care is that costs continue to rise," but it must be understood precisely why they are rising and how to supplement the costs. As people are living longer and technology develops faster, more lives can be saved more quickly, and thus the exact treatments and processes that may be included under the umbrella of health care are expanding rapidly. Health care as we see it today will not be the same as what health care will - and should be - in fifty years.
Why did Rick Scott choose to refuse two provisions of a policy that will be beneficial for his constituents? Is it an attempt to spite Obama, the Democrats, and Chief Justice John Roberts? Will other Republicans put the safety and well-being of their states' citizens at the expense of more-of-the same politics?
What is perhaps most disappointing about this latest development in the health care battle is that despite the Supreme Court ruling that the PPACA is constitutional, the president's efforts, and the millions of people across the country that can now afford the care they need, Scott and indubitably the other Republican governors that will follow his cowardly lead will continue to push this issue instead of focusing on other domestic affairs that demand resolution. It is up to the rest of the country to determine who will take or stay in the Oval Office in January in just four months; until then, it is up to state governors and party leaders to accept or reject the flexible provisions.
If Rick Scott is willing to sacrifice a massive program that would not only benefit his state by helping millions of people, who knows what other harm he is ready to inflict.