No health insurance? No problem. Ron DeSantis says Florida is a ‘field of dreams’

DeSantis debate copy 2
Gov. DeSantis has focused on health care issues, such as his opposition to COVID-19 lockdowns, vaccine mandates and drug prices.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is deflecting questions about the more than 2.5 million residents who do not have health insurance.

During the GOP Primary debate on Wednesday, DeSantis was asked by Fox Business’ Stuart Varney about why the state has a higher uninsured rate than the nation overall. At first, DeSantis blamed inflation and economic policies enacted under President Joe Biden. He then said that health care interests such as pharmaceutical companies were “putting patients at the back of the bus.”

When Varney pressed again, DeSantis said Florida was a “dynamic” and growing state, but then defended the state’s existing safety net programs as helping keep Florida’s overall unemployment rate down.

“We also don’t have a lot of welfare benefits in Florida,” DeSantis said. “We basically say this is a field of dreams. You can do well in this state but we’re not going to be like California and have a massive number of people on government programs without work requirements.”

Florida currently has more than 5 million people on Medicaid, the state-federal funded safety net health care program. But Republicans in the Florida Legislature along with DeSantis and former Gov. Rick Scott have resisted expanding Medicaid to the extent allowed under Obamacare.

Medicaid expansion hasn’t been seriously considered during DeSantis’ five years in office. Democrats have consistently criticized Florida Republicans for opposing Medicaid expansion.

KFF Health News in late 2022 reported that roughly 10% of Americans did not have health insurance compared to 15% for Florida.

During his time in office, DeSantis has focused on health care issues, such as his opposition to COVID-19 lockdowns, vaccine mandates and drug prices. He has not really proposed any significant changes to government programs such as Medicaid, although his administration has been criticized for its efforts to trim Medicaid rolls after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • SteveHC

    September 28, 2023 at 5:26 am

    Under DeSantis, his Administration and sycophant state legislature, Florida’s government has truly and consistently been actively ANTI-healthcare *period*. In this and most all other respects one of his “mottos” might as well be “We are NOT our brothers’ keepers” – about as anti Judeo-Christian as one can get. Sorry, but merely saying you are a Christian, outlawing abortion, and – perhaps – going to a church but otherwise ignoring the teachings and ideology of Jesus does NOT make you a “Christian” it makes you a hypocritical CHINO – CHristian In Name Only.

    • Rick Whitaker

      September 28, 2023 at 11:56 am

      the maga party could be renamed the ” macca ” party , make america christian confederacy again. the mostly southern states not expanding medicaid ( obamacare } is a slap to working class people. always pushing private health insurance over socialized medicine is cruel and inhumane. private health insurance is not affordable to working class people. desantis has his healthcare paid for by florida taxpayers , socialism ??? desantis is just flat out not a nice person

      • Ron Greiner (RG)

        October 6, 2023 at 1:02 pm

        Pasco Schools charge a teacher $1,994/month to add a 30-year-old wife and son to the Blue’s PPO! The largest Medicaid insurer is Centene who had the best stock on the S&P 500 in 2018! Centene is also the largest company in Obamacare too! Big, Big money in Medicaid but Centene has a RICO Act class action lawsuit in Chicago! Chicago Sun reports Centene gets $5 billion a year from Chicago but FOSTER children wait a year to see the doctor! Florida Blue Cross has all 67 school districts in Florida, right? Is that a giant government Monopoly like Medicaid?

  • wake me up right now

    September 28, 2023 at 7:47 am

    Ms. Sexton, I respectfully disagree with your summary paragraph on Rona’s “focus” during his term. He has been wildly inconsistent. For example, he did impose so-called “lockdowns” early on in the pandemic. He made sure his rich buddies at Ocean Reef Club and the Villages got the vaccine first. Please do your research and report the facts instead of parroting Rona’s revisionist “freedumb” narrative!

    • JFT

      September 29, 2023 at 11:49 am

      I try to remind people that we were in lockdown for quite awhile and that his donor buddies got shots before anyone else. As he is trying to do with textbooks , he is rewriting history to fit his White Nationalist Christian identity . He’s trying to look tough but at every turns just looks like another pandering weasel ( no slight to actual weasels)

  • Florida Citizen

    September 28, 2023 at 9:06 am

    DeSantis should have brought AHCA’s Mighty Jason with him to help explain Florida’s blatantly discriminatory health coverage policies to America.

  • Michael K

    September 28, 2023 at 9:15 am

    Florida is one of only 9 states that has stubbornly refused to expand healthcare for its most needy residents. Almost all are former Confederate states. Even deep-red Missouri expanded Medicaid overwhelmingly by voter initiative when the Republican legislature refused.

    Governor DeathSentence living up to his name. Shame on Florida.

  • Pastor Pasta

    September 28, 2023 at 11:35 am

    Florida is the GOP laboratory. Proof positive that the policies they advocate for fail the citizens they are supposed to represent with economic devastation and often deadly consequences. The GOP is morally bankrupt and beholden only to their corporate and oligarchic funders. Jesus wept. The party of life, yeah, sure…

  • Silly Wabbit

    September 28, 2023 at 6:26 pm

    Flowida kwazy.

Comments are closed.


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