Florida's schizophrenic anniversary of health care reform

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Editor’s note: The following is a guest column from editor-at-large Daniel Tilson.

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal health reform legislation that introduced groundbreaking new rules of fair play into a profoundly corrupted and costly private health insurance system.

Adults and children with histories of serious illness, senior citizens on fixed incomes, people with disabilities, small businesses fighting to stay afloat, 20-somethings struggling to find work (much less health insurance); all have benefited from the new legislation that for the first time in American history forces profits-first insurers to protect those who actually need insurance the most.

So it? not surprising that there were celebrations yesterday throughout Florida and across the country, commemorating and standing up in support of the Affordable Care Act,gratefully acknowledging the desperately needed help and peace of mind it has provided for so many Floridians, and for millions of Americans nationwide.

And it’s no more surprising that Florida? new governor, Rick Scott, chose the waning hours of the anniversary day of this historic legislation to announce the formation of a new commission;a commission with a mission of justifying privatization of the 30+ public hospitals left in Florida.

This goes hand in hand with the Scott-FL GOP effort to force Florida’s poor and disabled Medicaid recipients into private HMOs. The 3-stage con game in play here is this: Manipulate recession-weary people desperate to save their tax and insurance premium dollars that now offset public healthcare costs. Turn them against the most vulnerable, poor and powerless citizens in the state. And make it “acceptable” to switch to a fully privatized healthcare system that cuts costs by underserving and denying care to the most needy and helpless among us.

Why is this is not surprising?

First, because Rick Scott used 70+ million dollars of his personal fortune to get elected governor (by less than 15% of Floridians!), after having amassed that fortune as boss of a private health insurance company that pled guilty to defrauding the government and taxpayers out of billions of dollars. In fact, he campaigned non-stop against any meaningful reform of the corrupted industry that so unjustly enriched him.

Secondly, it should come as no surprise that the new legislative leaders of the Florida Republican Party, men like Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon, are eager co-conspirators in Scott? plot to obstruct state-level implementation of the Affordable Care Act and privatize the entire health care system.

All you have to do to figure this one out is to follow the money.

For years now, Florida? private health insurance industry(and the statewide Chamber of Commerce) has poured hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in ?onations?into the campaign and political action committee accounts of Scott, Cannon, Haridopolos and assorted other members of the state legilsature…and not nearly all of them Republicans.

Untold millions more have been spent by the same combination of Big Insurance & The Chamber in a massive campaign to turn Floridians and Americans against federal health reform.

Given these unfortunate but very verifiable facts, this one-year anniversary is the right time for those who have bought into all that anti-government, anti-reform propaganda to take pause, and reconsider what side of this public policy battlefield they really belong on.



Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.