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Report says loss of health care mandate would hit South, Central Florida hard

Three South Florida congressional districts represented by Republicans would be among the hardest-hit in the country according to a new report assessing how many people would lose or drop health care coverage if the final tax reform bill in Congress includes the U.S. Senate’s provision to repeal the individual coverage mandate in Obamacare.

A report “Estimates of the Increase in Uninsured by Congressional District Under the Senate GOP Tax Bill” from the Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress calculated the prospects for people dropping insurance in all 435 U.S. congressional districts, based on numbers produced by the Congressional Budget Office, if the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is repealed. The report, first produced earlier this week but revised late Wednesday, found the districts of U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo all would be among the top seven in the country in the numbers of people dropping health care coverage.

Districts of Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Val DemingsAlcee HastingsDarren SotoTed Deutch, and Frederica Wilson would not be far behind.

Only one Florida member of Congress, Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, could expect to see his district among the 100 in the nation that are least-affected by projected health care coverage reductions, according to the center. Florida’s 11th Congressional District in west-central Florida could expect to lose 24,100 people from health care coverage, the 18th-least among the nation’s 435 congressional districts.

The fate of the mandate is in the hands of the congressional conference committee, as the tax reform bill approved by the Senate includes the mandate repeal, while the bill approved by the House of Representatives does not.

Overall, Florida could see 873,000 people drop their health care coverage by 2025 if the mandate is eliminated the center estimated, according to the center. Nationally, state-by-state numbers pretty much rank the same as a state’s population size, and Florida would expect to have the third-highest number of people losing or dropping health care coverage, behind the only two states with higher populations, California and Texas.

With congressional districts, however, the variances range more widely, dependent on how many people in each district now are enrolled in Medicaid, or in health insurance policies purchased through the individuals’ market, or in insurance packages purchased through employer-sponsored plans.

The CBO projected that 5 million of those people dropping health care coverage would be dropping from Medicaid, another 5 million from the individuals’ market, and about 3 million from employer-sponsored health insurance.

“Mandate repeal has two effects on the individual market,” Emily Gee, a health economist at the Center for American Progress, explained in her report. “First, some healthy enrollees would drop out of ACA-compliant plans and become uninsured or underinsured. Second, because the remaining enrollees in the risk pool would be sicker on average, insurance companies would need to raise rates about 10 percent to cover the increased average cost. The resulting higher premiums would discourage even more people from obtaining coverage through the individual market.”

With those factors, Diaz-Balart’s district could become one of the most vulnerable in the nation to reductions in health care coverage, a phenomenon expected to not just affect individuals, but also the financial pressures on hospitals, other health care entities, and local governments, the report notes.

The center’s report says that Florida’s 25th Congressional District could expect to see 41,000 people drop or lose insurance, the fourth-highest number of any congressional district. Ros-Lehtinen’s district is projected to lose 40,800, the nation’s sixth-highest total; in Curbelo’s district, 39,900, seventh-highest among the 435 congressional districts, according to the Center for American Progress.

Diaz-Balart’s, Ros-Lehtinen’s, and Curbelo’s offices did not respond Thursday to a request from Florida Politics to comment on the center’s findings.

Several Democrats, already opposed to either version of the tax bill, responded, including Demings, whose 10th Congressional District was projected to lose 37,700 health care enrollees.

“After much debate, the facts are in: the president’s tax bill will raise your healthcare costs, putting your right to manage your own health further out of reach. Without a second thought, donors came first,” she said in a written statement. “The GOP’s proposal would mean nearly a million Floridians would lose their healthcare over the next eight years. Floridians have done their part by turning out in record numbers during the open enrollment period. However, the people seem to have been forgotten in a tax bill that was supposed to be all about the people.”

Soto, whose Florida’s 9th Congressional District in Central Florida is projected to lose about 35,400 enrollees, declared that “Florida’s hardworking families should be troubled by the current GOP Tax bill. As it stands, it is disastrous for our state’s health programs. In Central Florida alone [including his, Demings’ and Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy‘s districts,] approximately 103,000 people would face a reduction in health insurance coverage due to the individual mandate repeal.”

The other four Florida districts projected to be among the nation’s 50 hardest-hit nationally are Wasserman Schultz’s 23rd Congressional District in South Florida (expected to lose 37,700 health care enrollees); Hastings’ 20th Congressional District in South Florida (36,300); and Deutch’s 22nd Congressional District and Wilson’s 24th Congressional District, both in South Florida, both 35,200.

Across the country, the average congressional district would lose about 29,800 enrollees from health care plans, the center reported. Eighteen of Florida’s 27 congressional districts would exceed that average.

Joe Henderson: Would you vote for Donald Trump again?

Today’s question, class: If you voted for Donald Trump in the last election, would you vote for him again knowing what you know today?

If you didn’t vote him then, would you do so now?

Yes? No?

Wednesday will mark one year since Trump turned the world upside down with his shocking, stunning, unexpected – oh, you know what I mean. But we’ve had time to get used to him and his management style, so what do you think?

Since the election, he has been an extension of the person he was during the campaign –  frequently crude, loose with the truth, addicted to Twitter, and always ready to attack someone he perceives to be an enemy. Some people see all that as a strength.

But my question to you is this: Does that bother you more now than it did during the campaign? Or did you think, as a lot of people appear to have done, that he would put on big-boy pants when he got into office and conduct the affairs of state with proper decorum?

He promised to make America great again – “again” being the linchpin of his campaign. That seemed to be the word that resonated most with supporters.

He did appoint Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and that made supporters happy, but so far, he has no significant legislative wins – despite Republican control of both houses of Congress.

He has warred with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, belittled House Speaker Paul Ryan, trashed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and when backed into a corner he tries to shift the focus to Hillary Clinton (and, by extension, Sessions and the Justice Department).

Pssst. The campaign is over, Mr. President. You won.

He hasn’t made much of an attempt to unite the country, preferring to appeal to a (cough) carefully targeted audience (cough) – although I guess we’ll find out from special counsel Robert Mueller if it was a little too carefully targeted, if you get my drift.

Remember in the campaign when Trump dismissed any suggestion of hacking from Russia by saying it “could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

Yeah, if that bed is in Vladivostok.

Back on point: Would you vote for him again?

Does it bother you that many top people have either left his administration voluntarily or were fired?

It’s quite a list: Chief of Staff Reince Prebius, HHS Secretary Tom Price, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Ethics Director Walter Shaub, FBI Director James Comey, and on and on.

Did it make America great again to insult important allies like Germany, Australia, Japan, France, Great Britain, and Mexico? Does that type of leadership make you want to vote for him again?

The economy is going gangbusters and he is trying to get a tax plan through. Sure, if adopted as written, rich people will benefit the most but my guess is most supporters won’t care so long as they get a sliver of the pie.

But Obamacare still hasn’t been repealed or replaced, and at this point it looks like the president and his party doesn’t have a clue how to do that. There is no border wall under construction to keep Mexicans on their turf.

His clumsy remarks after the white supremacist clash in Charlottesville, Va. made look like he was offering excuses for bigotry. He assumes he can continue to label any news story he doesn’t like as “fake” and people will continue to believe him.

We had two of the worst cases of mass murder in this country – Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas – occur since Oct. 1. And on Halloween night, eight people died in New York City during what has been called a terrorist attack.

Donald Trump, obviously, could not have stopped any of those attacks. No president could. But what he sold to enough Americans to win the election is that he “alone” – his words – could fix things.

Thus, he alone must be held accountable for the results.

Has he fixed things to your satisfaction? You’ve had almost a year to judge him.

Would you vote for him again?

 

Kathy Castor optimistic about bipartisan health care proposal

A potential breakthrough in health care legislation broke out this week with the announcement of a bipartisan deal in the Senate proposed by Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander and Washington Democrat Patty Murray.

The deal would include funding through 2019 for the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing program, which President Donald Trump cut last week. It would allow states to use existing Obamacare waivers to approve insurance plans with “comparable affordability” to Obamacare plans. And it would not allow states to duck the law’s minimum requirements for what a health insurance plan must cover.

The House of Representatives are not in Washington this week. Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor says that it would behoove her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to speak with the public on what they think of the proposal.

“I think it would be fair to allow people to go through it and understand what it means,” she said Wednesday in Tampa. “I also think it’s important to hear from folks at home, doctors, hospitals, a lot of our neighbors. I’m going to check in with our state insurance commissioner, because here we are and open enrollment is going to start quite soon and people need to know is it going to be affordable for me and my family.”

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act is scheduled to start November 1 and run through December 15. Those “navigators” will attempt to sign up as many people as they can, despite the fact that the Trump administration is reducing their funding, some by as much as 90 percent.

The Alexander-Murray proposal comes a week after Trump finally followed through with his months long threat to yank the funding for subsidies to insurance companies as part of the ACA. Those subsides reduced deductibles and co-payments for low-income Obamacare enrollees. Analysts say the move did not have that significant an impact since many insurers already raised their rates in anticipation of the move. Regulators in several states that didn’t price in the funding loss announced rate hikes soon after the president’s announcement last week. Insurers must continue to offer the cost-sharing subsidies since they are required by law.

Castor says it’s important to let the public “digest the details.”

“We should be cheering on a bipartisan effort to help fix things for families,” she said. “If this bill will really lower costs and provide affordable care to our neighbors, then we need to pass it and the leadership needs to allow a vote.”

Meanwhile on the other side of Tampa Bay, Pinellas County Democratic Representative Charlie Crist is calling on his constituents to sign a petition calling on congressional leaders to demand a vote on the Alexander/Murray proposal.

Donald Trump issues warning to John McCain after senator’s tough speech

President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a warning shot after Republican Sen. John McCain questioned “half-baked, spurious nationalism” in America’s foreign policy, saying “people have to be careful because at some point I fight back.”

McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent 5½ years in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp and is battling brain cancer, offered a simple response to Trump: “I have faced tougher adversaries.”

Trump said in a radio interview with WMAL in Washington, “I’m being very, very nice but at some point, I fight back and it won’t be pretty.” He bemoaned McCain’s decisive vote this past summer in opposition to a GOP bill to dismantle Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, a move that caused the failure of GOP efforts to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”

In Philadelphia on Monday night, the six-term Republican senator from Arizona received an award for a lifetime of service and sacrifice to the country. In addition to recalling his more than two decades of military service and his imprisonment during the war, McCain took a moment to go a step further than the night’s other speakers, who lamented what many described as a fractured political climate.

“To abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems,” he said, “is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

He continued: “We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden presented McCain with the Liberty Medal. Though members of opposing parties, the two men worked together during their time in the Senate. Former President Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in his bid for the presidency in 2008, congratulated the senator on the award in a tweet Monday night.

“I’m grateful to @SenJohnMcCain for his lifetime of service to our country. Congratulations, John, on receiving this year’s Liberty Medal,” Obama wrote.

Another political foe, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said on Twitter: “Ran against him, sometimes disagree, but proud to be a friend of @SenJohnMcCain: hero, champion of character and last night, Lincolnesque.”

Pressed on Trump’s threat Tuesday morning, McCain told reporters he has had tougher fights, and then smiled.

Trump said in the radio interview that McCain’s vote against Republican efforts to dismantle the 2010 health care law was a “shocker.”

McCain and Trump have long been at odds. During the campaign, Trump suggested McCain was not a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Gus Bilirakis ‘thrilled’ with Trump’s new health care executive order

President Donald Trump took the first steps toward fulfilling his vow to dismantle Obamacare, and Tarpon Springs Republican Gus Bilirakis is thrilled.

Trump signed an executive order Thursday that calls on his administration to develop policies to increase health care competition and choice with the intent of improving the quality of health care and lower prices.

Specifically, the president’s order directs the Labor Department to study how to make it easier for small businesses, and possibly individuals, to join together and buy health insurance through nationwide association health plans, CNN reported. The department could give employers in the same industries more flexibility to offer group coverage across state lines, providing them with a broader range of policies at lower rates.

Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine tweeted that the executive order might be complicated, so he’d break it down in simpler terms.

“It’s sabotage,” he tweeted, adding later that “it would allow cheap low-quality plans onto the market that could discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, seniors,” ultimately pushing healthy people onto “junk plans,” which leave only the sick or at-risk on the Affordable Care Act, essentially destroying the insurance market.

Bilirakis, on the other hand, applauded what he termed the President’s “bold action.”

“This is great news, especially since the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation recently announced that individual health insurance plans available on the Florida exchange are likely to increase by an average of 44.7 percent, effective January 1, 2018,” Bilirakis said. “Additionally, there will only by 9 companies participating in the Florida exchange next year, with 42 out of 67 counties only having one provider, Florida Blue.”

Bilirakis added that he’s always been a proponent of allowing individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines and expand the reach of Association Health Plans, “because I believe it will drive down prices through increased competition.”

Earlier this year, Bilirakis held three town hall meetings on health care in his district, by far the most by any Republican in the Tampa Bay area. Angry Democrats dominated all three, demanding he does not support dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

 

Amy Mercado: The never-ending battle against higher premiums

We recently learned that if the Donald Trump administration pulls Obamacare subsidies, premiums will jump 20 percent on the most popular coverage, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. This would be very bad news for Floridians who are already struggling with the rising costs of health care.

Our state has led the nation in Obamacare sign ups with more than 1.6 million enrolled in 2017, up from 1.1 million the prior year. This is due, in some part, to the refusal of leadership in Tallahassee to expand Medicaid that left up to 1 million Floridians without access to the health care coverage they need to live and work.

If there is any doubt about the dire need for affordable health care coverage, 45 of 50 states have fewer uninsured people than Florida. We simply can’t afford any premium increases.

That’s why it’s also important to once again delay the looming Health Insurance Tax.

This Health Insurance Tax, also known as the “HIT tax,” was previously delayed by Congress for the current year. The delay received bipartisan support, with 400 members of Congress voting in favor of the delay, and it was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

The Health Insurance Tax is estimated to increase premiums on certain policies by about 3 percent in January 2018. Seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage and small-business owners, their employees and their families will also have to pay more out of pocket.

And the state Medicaid budget will be squeezed even more than it is already — especially bad timing considering the Florida Legislature just cut funding for care provided to Medicaid patients.

As a working mom, businesswoman and former health care worker, I know that every penny counts. When you can’t afford coverage, you can’t afford to get sick.

I also know these numbers don’t tell the whole story.

When we talk about health care here in Central Florida or anywhere in the country, we need to think about our friends, our family and our neighbors — real people trying to make ends meet.

That’s who pays higher premium costs due to the actions or inactions of our lawmakers.

When I go back to Tallahassee for committee weeks and the 2018 Legislative Session, I promise to continue fighting for better access to the health care coverage Floridians deserve.

I hope that our federal lawmakers, Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, and our local Congressional Delegation, including Reps. Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto and Val Demings will support continued Obamacare subsidies and also delay the Health Insurance Tax for 2018 to keep premiums from rising on small businesses, seniors and our state budget.

Floridians can’t afford any premium increases.

We need more affordable coverage, not less.

___

Amy Mercado represents District 48 in the Florida House of Representatives.

Political committee attacks Florida Republicans in new ad campaign

A liberal political committee put out digital ads this week painting the GOP as dysfunctional after Senate Republicans failed to pass a “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act.

American Bridge said it would run the ads in four states, including Florida, and will focus on targeting swing voters through social media.

“The Republican Congress isn’t working. It’s time for new leadership in Washington,” the ad reads.

The ads lead to a signup page asking viewers to add their name to a list of people who “demand new leadership in Washington.”

“Every Republican in Washington should be ashamed for spending the better part of 2017 pushing a plan to gut health care for the middle class in order to cut taxes for the rich,” the page reads.

American Bridge Vice President Shripal Shah said in a press release announcing the ads that D.C. Republicans “are mired in dysfunction, unable deliver on their campaign promises and beholden to a toxic legislative agenda. They are offering the country chaos when we need competence.”

“Kicking millions off of their insurance in order to cut taxes for the rich was a recipe for disaster from the start, and in the aftermath of last night’s failure, we’re going to hold Republicans accountable. Their failures underscore the need for new leadership in Washington that will work in a bipartisan fashion to address the country’s challenges,” he continued.

Senate Republicans were primed to pass healthcare legislation Thursday night, but Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain joined 48 Senate Democrats and longtime Republican holdouts Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Susan Collins in voting down the repeal bill.

An example of the ad running against Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo is below:

John Newstreet’s campaign blames Bobby Olszewski for ‘liberal Newstreet’ attack ads; Olszewski denies involvement

The House District 44 Republican primary is boiling, as John Newstreet responded to a shadow group’s attack ads with a Facebook Live video decrying them as “not true” and his campaign blamed rival Bobby Olszewski, who denied involvement and disavowed such politics.

The ruckus is over mailers and an internet site sponsored by a new group called Central Florida Republicans for Truth, which contend that Newstreet is a liberal-in-Republican clothing who supports the Affordable Care Act and amnesty for illegal aliens.

Newstreet says the claims are not true, and his opponents know that.

“They obviously don’t care about truthfulness,” Newstreet states in the Facebook Live video. “I am disheartened that someone who has called me a friend fur years now choses to lie about me for his own political gain.”

Newstreet’s campaign pointed the finger at Olszewski. The two, and two other Republicans, are battling toward an Aug. 15 primary to run for HD 44 in an Oct. 10 special election, to represent southwest Orange County.

Olszewski completely denied any association with the group behind the mailers and internet video, Central Florida Republicans for Truth, and said he rejects the style of politics they are promoting.

Newstreet and Olszewski are in a race with fellow Republicans Bruno Portigliatti and Dr. Usha Jain. Portgliatti also denied any involvement and repudiated the ads. Jain did not respond Monday, but no one has suggested she might be involved.

Absentee ballot voting already is underway in the primary.

In his Facebook Live video, Newstreet calls the mailers and video, “misleading attack ads.” He declares, “Folks these negative pieces simply are not true.”

Newstreet’s campaign Manager Anna Taylor said in a statement to FloridaPolitics.com, “Bobby has known John Newstreet for more than a decade ago. He knows John is against illegal immigration and amnesty.

“As he’s proven today, with [Windermere] Mayor [Gary] Bruhn and [Ocoee Mayor Rusty] Johnson dropping their endorsement of him because of his flip-flop on home rule, he’s willing to say and do anything to get elected to office,” she continued. “The connection between [Michael] Millner and Bobby’s campaign team is obvious and the fact they are hiding their identity just shows the type of candidate they are working with.”

She did not elaborate about how Millner or the committee’s connection to Olszewski’s campaign was obvious. Millner has been treasurer, chairman, or registered agent for dozens of political action committees all over the state.

[Earlier Monday Bruhn and Johnson withdrew their endorsements of Olszewski, because of his campaign plank to push for local office election term limits.]

Central Florida Republicans for Truth filed to be registered on July 14, with Jacob Milich as chairman and Millner as treasurer. Milich did not return a phone call Monday seeking comments on the campaign, or who is paying for it.

Central Florida Republicans for Truth has not yet filed any campaign finance disclosures that would indicate its source of money.

When asked if he was at all connected with the group, Olszewski responded:

“I don’t know anything about them and reject negative campaigning. I’ve walked thousands of doors, made thousands more phone calls and ask the voters to judge who’s track record is consistently conservative. I will say I like and respect each candidate in this race. Having been on the receiving end of negative ads I understand the need or desire to blame someone. But as I said before I know nothing about any of the groups involved in this race.”

In his Facebook Live video, Newstreet makes it clear that he blames his “opponents” for the attacks, and makes it clear he knows which one, saying the former friend, “choses to lie about me for his own political gain.” Yet Newstreet does not himself name names.

That appears to leave Jain, who is a woman, out of his suspicions.

When he was asked if he were involved, Portigliatti replied, “Absolutely not. We don’t know anything about the group or who is behind the group. We’re disappointed in this type of campaigning; voters in House District 44 deserve candidates that are focused on the issues.”

The mailers charged that Newstreet is new to the district he’s running in. They charge that he supports the Affordable Care Act. And they and a video on a related website charge he told a protest group that supports amnesty that “we’re supportive.”

Two or the charges are not new to the campaign.

Newstreet responded two weeks ago to claims that he was new to the district, saying he’d bought his home there in 2008 and has lived there off and on ever since, most recently for the past 16 months, moving in and out of the district as his jobs dictated, but always holding onto the house as his permanent residence.

The matter of the Affordable Care Act came up in a debate two weeks ago in which Newstreet said he supported 80 percent of the law and opposed 20 percent. His campaign quickly retracted that statement, saying he misspoke in the live conversation, and had meant to say he supported 20 percent of ObamaCare and opposed 80 percent.

The third matter, of amnesty for illegal aliens, dates to when Newstreet was a staff member for then-U.S. Sen. George LeMieux. Newstreet’s HD 44 campaign said protesters were seeking Republican LeMieux’s support for the Dream Act in 2010, and had gathered outside his office. Newstreet, the senator’s district representative, was dispatched to go outside and talk to them. He did so by assuring the protesters that LeMieux’s  office would listen to their concerns, but made no promises or assurances of support for the act, the Newstreet HD 44 campaign said Monday.

LeMieux did not support the Dream Act.

The video Central Florida Republicans for Truth posted on their anti-Newstreet website, uses jarring images and pulsating text to declare, “In 2010, State House candidate John Newstreet addressed a radical group dedicated to increasing illegal immigration and passing the Dream Act.” It then shows him addressing the gathering by saying, “We’re friendly to you. We’re supportive. Hopefully, we can get something done.”

The video does not mention that Newstreet addressed them on behalf of LeMieux, while they were protesting his office.

“Folks, that’s not how we do things in our community,” Newstreet stated in his video.

Rick Scott: DC needs to start rewarding efficiency, not inefficiency

Ed. Note: Gov. Rick Scott‘s office sent the following op-ed regarding “the national healthcare debate.”


I recently traveled to D.C. to fight for Florida as the U.S. Senate debated repealing and replacing Obamacare. For far too long, D.C. politicians have focused only on the grand bargain of repealing and replacing Obamacare, ignoring the opportunity to make incremental changes to get rid of the taxes and mandates and roll back the federal welfare state. 

For decades, the federal government has been willing to spend more than it takes in. We all know this is not sustainable, leaving debt for our children and grandchildren – more than $19 trillion in debt and counting. The inaction we’ve seen on repealing Obamacare shows that hasn’t changed.

Throughout this healthcare debate, a lot of people have been advocating for bigger government, and not a lot of people have been advocating for taxpayers. I will always advocate for Florida’s hardworking taxpayers.

While a new bill has been introduced this week, it has taken far too long to get rid of the disaster of Obamacare, and I fear the politicians in Washington will never find common ground on this critical topic. There is absolutely no question that Obamacare must be repealed immediately so Americans can actually afford to purchase health insurance.

To lower costs, fundamental reform to the Medicaid program is needed. Obamacare encouraged a massive expansion of Medicaid to cover able-bodied, working-aged adults, even as 600,000 elderly Americans and individuals with disabilities nationwide sit on waiting lists to access services through this program.  

States like Florida that have run increasingly efficient Medicaid programs, and have not expanded Medicaid, must be rewarded and treated fairly under any bill. What’s concerning is that under the most recently proposed Senate bill, tax and spend states like New York will continue to be rewarded for running an inefficient Medicaid program.

Long before the Obamacare debate, New York ran a terribly inefficient Medicaid program for decades which ran up their state’s deficit and hindered their economy. Florida is the exact opposite. We have been efficient with our dollars while providing quality care to those who truly need Medicaid. 

As a reward for its fiscal irresponsibility, for every dollar New York pays in federal income taxes, they receive a quarter back from the federal government for Medicaid. In comparison, Florida only receives 16 cents for every tax dollar that is sent to Washington. Current Congressional bills lock in past federal spending, which would make this inequity permanent.

That makes absolutely no sense. If Florida is going to get a smaller rate of return on its federal taxes, shouldn’t our federal taxes be cut? New York, with fewer residents than Florida, receives more than $33 billion per year for Medicaid while Florida receives less than $15 billion.

How is permanently locking in these spending levels fair to Floridians when New York has been terribly inefficient with their taxpayers’ dollars? The federal government should cut income taxes for Floridians by 30 percent. This would put our share of federal Medicaid funding as a percentage of taxes paid on par with New York. This reduction would save Floridians thousands each year.

The federal government must start rewarding efficient states like Florida and stop rewarding inefficient states. Our taxpayers deserve nothing less. 

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