Daniel Tilson: Can grassroots Republicans help solve Florida’s healthcare crisis?

Conservative Florida Republicans of good conscience, unite!

Unite in demanding your local state representatives in the Florida House be given the opportunity to publicly vote Aye or Nay on a Senate plan to provide health insurance coverage to more than 800,000 uninsured Floridians stuck in the “Florida Coverage Gap.”

Hey, you’ve got nothing to lose … except maybe the spiritual burden you carry if you condone the tactics employed and damage done by House extremists who shut down the Florida Legislature early and forced the special session starting June 1.

You may have heard that, on average, an estimated three or more uninsured people die every day in Florida due to being denied the life-saving security of healthcare coverage. Note, that’s not liberal distortion. It’s an indisputable statistical fact. Yet Republican House leaders are winding up a third straight year of putting hyper-partisan politics over those lost lives, refusing all attempts even from within the more moderate wing of their own party to reach a compromise.

That’s radical right-wing territory, way out of step with the moral principles and Christian ethics embraced by most fiscally conservative, fair-minded, big-hearted Republicans I know. So why are so many Christian conservative Republicans of strong moral fiber putting up with this kind of hypocrisy from their state representatives? Are the cover stories really that credible?

Regardless of what you’ve heard, the legislative shutdown and resultant taxpayer expense of a special session were both unnecessary. The federal government wasn’t “coercing” Gov. Rick Scott and the House to “force Obamacare expansion.” The feds were trying to help Florida insure 800,000-plus men and women. And Senate Republican leaders were trying to ensure that could be done in classically conservative fashion — from free-market competition among private insurers, to minimum work requirements for newly covered, able-bodied adults.

But the governor and House leaders such as Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Budget Chair Richard Corcoran wouldn’t consider any compromise that actually insured those people with the help of federal funds. For all their complaint about federal spending and deficits, they still want all the fed dough they can get. They just want complete control over it — including the “freedom” not to use it to cover the uninsured.

They claim the federal government “can’t be trusted” to pay 100 percent of Florida’s costs for insuring the uninsured for three years, and 90 percent thereafter. But it would be legally binding. Not to mention, ever since Medicaid insurance for the poor and disabled began 50 years ago, the feds have never once missed a payment to Florida. And if you’ve heard disinformation about getting trapped into paying for the program, know the truth. Florida can withdraw anytime the Legislature comes up with a better solution.

The crazy irony is, Senate Republicans have already come up with what most conservative business, religious and community leaders statewide agree is a “better solution” taking the fed funding, but for a non-Medicaid, private-sector plan to insure the uninsured, including modest premium payments and work requirements. So why have House Republicans gone so rogue?

And why would you let them?

With almost all “legitimate” rationalizations proved irrational by now, it comes down to proving how much you oppose President Obama. You may not admit it, but you know it’s true. Doesn’t make you a racist. But it sure is making you a political pawn — and part of the problem.

You’ve got a week left with your legislators at home. Think this through again. Be part of a healthcare solution — by demanding the House vote on one.

Daniel Tilson has a Boca Raton-based communications firm called Full Cup Media, specializing in online video and written content for nonprofits, political candidates and organizations, and small businesses. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Daniel Tilson


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