Mark O’Brien: Conservatives wrong to oppose Medicaid expansion in Florida

Eventually Floridians will look back at today’s politicians and say, “What were they thinking? What were they smoking?”

I’m talking about Florida’s refusal to accept millions of dollars in federal Medicaid money that would have improved life for thousands of people.

Forget about the way the Rabid Republicans spurned the money because Uncle Sam would eventually stop reimbursing the state at 100 percent and drop the reimbursements all the way to … 90 percent!

Forget about the access to health care and insurance for thousands of people, just so the Republicans could say “Nyah nyah” to Barack Obama.

Forget about the bitter irony of Floridians now paying for Medicaid for people in New York, New Jersey, Illinois and other states that took the money.

Forget about the lost job opportunities in a state where “Do you want fries with that?” is a question too many workers ask.

Just look at what it has done to the future of hospitals, which are like mini-cities with their need for infrastructure and technology.

The loss of the Medicaid money means hospitals must scrap ideas for improvements that would lead to lower costs, better service and long-term improvements.

It’s not just the latest whiz-bang medical device. Take a mundane example like laundry, for example.

It’s a significant factor at hospitals and other large health care institutions — an estimated 2 to 3 percent of a hospital’s budget.

Modern new laundries can reduce labor and water costs, reducing overhead, improving the environment, increasing sustainability and helping hospitals function more efficiently.

But hospitals may have to cancel or delay plans for major functional upgrades that would improve life for their patients, employees and owners. It’s similar to the refusal to maintain highways and schools, always pushing off long-range improvements just to make a short-term political point today.

No need to be sensible and make the best of a deal we question. It’s smarter politics today to thumb our noses at Obama and his health care program than to make the best of a situation we might not like.

This is because the Republicans have a better plan, right? It’s uh, what is the Republican plan for health care?

Put this example of blindness on the list of errors by fearful conservatives, who have been wrong on all the big issues of this era, opposing women’s rights, gay rights, minorities and pretty much anything else.

They can’t see beyond the end of their noses, which they’re biting off to spite their faces — and Florida’s future.

Mark O’Brien is a writer in Pensacola. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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