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Daniel Tilson: In Rick Scott's Florida, if the flooding doesn't get you, lack of health insurance will

Gov. Scott finally got busy addressing big issues this week. Not serious, mind you, just busy. Lots of finger-pointing, no problem-solving

With President Barack Obama visiting South Florida and using the Everglades as backdrop to observe Earth Day, Scott refused the White House’s invitation to participate. Why risk hearing any inflammatory words or phrases. Climate Change? Grrrr!

To hell with nonpartisan problem-solving, because, there is no problem. Proof? Last summer, just before his reelection showdown against Charlie Crist, Scott called for a billion dollars in new environmental spending. But his proposals made no mention of global warming, offered no hint of a plan to turn back the tide before it sinks a swath of South Florida. Even after a sit-down session with leading Florida scientists, Scott still clings to a cloak of feigned uncertainty about just how manmade, clear and present the dangers of climate change really are.

So while President Obama and a crowd of concerned Floridians used Earth Day to dramatize dangers to the Everglades, Florida and beyond, calling for national mobilization to minimize climate change…Gov. Scott fired off another poison-pen letter to the president, telling him to give Florida more big government money to do environmental protection the old fashioned way.

You know, let Big Sugar/Agriculture dictate exactly what lands need purchasing in order to protect our waterways from the toxic waste they keep poisoning them with. And oh yeah, replace a pollution permitting system with some bite, with a toothless “best practices” plan to promote voluntary compliance among big polluters.

Take a minute to laugh, or cry. OK, so…

The governor also got busy in the middle of Florida’s healthcare expansion mess this week. After avoiding the issue for years before publicly “renewing” opposition to federally funded healthcare expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he finally came out of the shadows.

He called for a special legislative session and passage of a “continuation budget” ignoring the healthcare issue, presumably until Team Scott can get the feds to continue funding charity care for Florida’s uninsured, without actually insuring them the way the ACA is designed to.

Scott also announced a new Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding. The stated goal is to understand why some public hospitals went from losing to making millions last year, while receiving federal, state and local taxpayer support. The underlying goal may be the de-funding of “safety net” hospitals, destabilizing them enough to strengthen the case for privatization. Note that Rick Scott’s specialty as both lawyer and CEO was healthcare mergers & acquisitions.

Stories of Scott’s “profits over people” business model and “my way or the highway” management style abound. Both were on display this week in Tallahassee, with the governor calling in Republican senators one by one to threaten a veto of anything approaching ACA-driven healthcare expansion. Word is, the veto threat extended to other Senate bills as well, should things not go his way in coming weeks.

Thankfully, GOP Senate leaders including Senate President Andy Gardiner are standing firm in support of expansion – as House Speaker Steve Crisafulli called a potentially Sunshine Law-breaking, off-limits-to-press-and-public healthcare meeting. The AP’s Gary Fineout had to hold his ear to the closed door, sharing whatever snippets he heard with the rest of the press corps. Bottom line? Crisafulli was imploring his contingent to stay in obstructionist lockstep with the governor.

If you care about the outcome here, make sure you’re heard loud and clear.

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

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