In his relentless campaign against President Obama’s health care reform law, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) has repeatedly proven his willingness to put politics ahead of the welfare of his state’s residents. While other Republican governors have joined in opposition to the Affordable Care Act, most have forged ahead with implementing the reforms and accepted the federal money that comes with it as that is the law, until their suit against the legislation is settled in court.
But the St. Petersburg Times reports that Scott has taken a different tact, ignoring the law by rejecting millions in federal health aid for senior citizens, children, and the disabled just to spite the president and score political points with the far right:
Florida already leads a lawsuit challenging the federal health care law, but state officials are going a step further and ignoring the law almost entirely — rejecting millions of federal dollars to provide health care for retirees, seniors, children and people with disabilities.
So far this year, Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature have returned or refused to spend at least $19 million in federal money associated with implementing the health care law. Scott also has stopped any state planning for the creation of mandated health care exchanges, which will allow consumers to comparison shop for health insurance plans.
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Other conservative governors in Texas, Indiana, and Wisconsin who oppose the Affordable Care Act have followed the law by taking federal money to plan for its implementation in their states. Texas has accepted $276 million for a program that provides health insurance to retirees over 55 who aren’t yet eligible for Medicare. Pennsylvania, which is also fighting the law, has still signed up thousands residents for a program that provides low-cost health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions that can’t get coverage elsewhere.
Florida has resisted taking part in both programs, to the detriment of thousands of residents. Openly flouting the legal mandate to make preparations in Florida, Scott has vowed to sit on his hands until the Supreme Court rules on the law’s constitutionality, which could take a long time.
Scott may be aiming at Obama with his petty refusal to take the federal health care money, but he is really hurting the most vulnerable Floridians. Scott is a former private health industry executive who made his fortune downsizing hospitals for profit. His partisan demagoguery on health reform and other issues has helped make him the least popular governor in America.
Moreover, Scott’s claim to be standing on principle by vetoing health care money is especially disingenuous given that he just signed a budget that uses $370 million of federal stimulus money after he vowed to “fight all stimulus money.”