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Daniel Tilson: Navigating Rick Scott’s latest Obamacare subterfuge

Like the insanely indefatigable Black Knight of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” fame who battles on claiming “Tis but a flesh wound!” even after his arms and legs are cut off in combat, Gov. Rick Scott is continuing his fight against Obamacare as it enters a critical new phase of implementation.

The latest chapter in this saga involves the decision to block Obamacare “navigators,” the community-based workers fanning out all over the country to educate the public about new health insurance exchanges and help people start enrolling on Oct. 1.

Florida Deputy Health Secretary C. Meade Grigg issued the order prohibiting navigators from working through the state’s 60 county health departments – exactly where so many low-income, uninsured Floridians in need can be found. But no mystery about who was behind this.

Savvy Scott trackers knew something like this was coming when he started making noises about supposed risks of identity theft if navigators helped people get insured; about as credible a claim as the 2012 whopper about (virtually non-existent) voter fraud requiring new restrictions on voting rights. We all remember how well that worked out last November.

The backstory here is foul and fraught with sinister subterfuge worthy of the governor’s silver screen doppelganger; the Dark Lord Voldemort who tortured Harry Potter and his Hogwarts pals for so long.

Although in reality Scott has been torturing Floridians since only 2010, the protracted potboiler featuring him as anti-Obamacare protagonist already has the moldy reek of overwrought, over-written vendetta fiction.

National healthcare reform was in fact already the Moby Dick that made Captain Ahab out of citizen Rick, when he used millions made as CEO of a historically fraudulent health insurer to finance anti-Obamacare advertising from 2009-2010. But the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act was still passed by Congress and signed into law.

So then Scott ran for governor in a state where more than one in five residents has no health insurance – the second highest rate in America – and used his personal fortune to run more ads attacking the law that might help solve Florida’s uninsured crisis. Seventy-five million dollars later, he got elected, and carried on his crusade against Obamacare.

But despite nearly three years of subversive legal and legislative efforts by Scott and company, despite all their unwillingness to build infrastructure needed to implement the law, new reforms began to have heavy impact.

Thousands of Floridians who had been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions were now able to get insurance. Thousands of young people were now able to stay covered by their parents’ health plans until age 26. Hundreds of thousands of seniors now saw Medicare’s infamous RX “donut hole” start shrinking. And countless Floridians gained new access to life-saving preventive care services, for free.

Those are key past accomplishments of Obamacare, social progress that wouldn’t have come had Scott gotten his way. Now, the grudge-holding governor is trying to prevent future accomplishments by blocking the work of health insurance exchange navigators.

This latest move serves as another “other shoe” dropping to remind us how disingenuous Scott was when supposedly signaling readiness to embrace Obamacare last winter. While most national media labeled it a conversion, the more skeptical among us stamped it implausibly out of character.

Imagine a Harry Potter rewrite where in the end Voldemort casts off the bad guy stuff, wishes Harry well and pledges future cooperation; or a new Moby Dick ending where Ahab praises the Great White Whale for all its pluckiness, promising to lead it to a great feeding spot nearby.

In all these cases, we must admit; the storyline twists simply do not fit.

The navigator blockade helped set the story straight, especially coming on the heels of the combat boot dropped by the 2013 state legislature when it passed a law deregulating health insurers for two years, when the new health insurance exchanges are getting up and running. What a coincidence.

This law allows insurers to raise their premiums by as much as they want – provided they send customers a detailed letter explaining how much of that inflated new cost is due to Obamacare!

I mean, like…wow. You can’t make this stuff up.

The potential silver lining here is that middle-class folks who’ve been drinking the anti-Obamacare Kool Aid for years may start to put two and two together and see that these shoes are being dropped right on their necks, threatening to choke the financial “recovery” right out of them.

These are the middle class taxpayers and insured workers who’ve unknowingly been victims of an inflationary shell game, a health-care cost shift that has them paying a mix of higher insurance premiums, copays, deductibles and taxes, all to cover the cost of uncompensated emergency room care for millions of uninsured Floridians.

Only when most of these folks turn actively against this governor and legislative henchmen like House Speaker Will Weatherford, will we see sustainable social progress and economic recovery in our state.

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