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Daniel Tilson: Gov. Rick Scott puts KISS principle to work in healthcare debate

Simplicity is always in season for some politicians. Cherry-picking what information to share with the public is part and parcel of how some of our most powerful elected officials – Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and House Budget Chair Richard Corcoran, to name a few – do government business.

You may think the Florida Legislature’s special session starting June 1 will be a chaotic compilation of all the work left undone or unfinished when House Republicans walked off the job at the end of April. But no, the hardcore conservative extremists holding our government hostage this spring want attention focused on how right they were to stage their legislative shutdown, rather than giving all Floridians the security of health insurance coverage.

Whether they’re willing to shut down the entire state government over the issue remains to be seen. But the governor is putting all state agencies and employees on alert to prepare for such a circumstance, should legislators fail to resolve their differences and pass a budget by June 30 as required by law.

Using the time-honored KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle, Scott & Co. keep extracting politically useful right angles from complex public policy debates, and using them to box lots of low-information, middle-class Floridians into a corner. Because, hey, the less you know about any given policy issue and the different options for addressing it, the less worries you have.

The governor’s new Commission on Hospital & Healthcare Funding is the latest angle in play. The idea is to get everybody focused in on controlling healthcare costs. Hospitals are the first big target, but Scott promises other providers will also be scrutinized – and insurance companies too. This, from the same government currently not allowing its Office of Insurance Regulation to, um…regulate health insurance premium rates.

But that’s too complicated to talk about, much less know about. Same goes for the steady, continuing drop in healthcare costs nationwide, as the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) regulations and new coverage of millions combine to drive down costs. Too much information!

There’s a mountain of other information out there indicating how much money we’d save, how much job creation and economic growth would be jump-started, if Scott and House Republicans simply compromised on the Florida Senate’s plan to insure Florida’s uninsured. But they’re avoiding the simplicity of a solution, favoring the simplicity of stubborn resistance instead.

They’ve kept opposition to the ACA simple for their followers for years now by personalizing it derisively as “Obamacare” and smearing it as “big government” intrusion/taxation/coercion, while ignoring its successful accomplishments. And the arch-conservatives in charge aren’t about to back down now.

They want to roll the dice on keeping this an “Us vs. Them” fight, convincing as many Floridians as possible to sit back, let them undermine the ACA, and remake our state health care system into a hodgepodge of half-baked and failed “free market” ideas.

Then, they can talk endlessly about how they came up with “a Florida solution” to the problem. Gov. Scott’s “Let’s Get To Work” and “Let’s Keep Working” slogans have masked the creation of hundreds of thousands of bad, minimum wage-no benefits jobs in retail and tourism, and driven many working families onto taxpayer-paid public assistance. In the same way, cherry-picking a simplistic “Let’s Cut Costs” crusade in healthcare, while ignoring the necessity to insure the uninsured, will leave us in a much worse jam than we now find ourselves in.

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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