As Florida lawmakers continue to face off over the multibillion- dollar issue of whether to expand Medicaid, one of the fiercest critics of those opposed to such a plan is a prominent former member.
Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano does not hide the fact that he is, at the very least, upset with those members of the Florida House — including state Rep. Richard Corcoran, one of his proteges — who are blocking a Medicaid expansion plan proposed by the Florida Senate that would draw federal money linked to President Barack Obama‘s healthcare overhaul.
“Suddenly Fl House Leadership is concerned about the working poor,” Fasano tweeted during the final days of the 2015 legislative session. “Where’s their plan? They have none. They blame the other guy.”
“Florida House do you have a conscience?” Fasano tweeted in response to a report that a priority of Senate President Andy Gardiner would not pass because of the legislative stalemate. “Holding hostage legislation to help people with special needs.”
More Fasano tweets: “All of a sudden Florida House leadership wants us to be believe they’re concerned about the working poor. You’re two years late.”
These statements are a sample of the social media activity by Fasano in support of legislators, columnists, and other politicos lined up on the side of Florida’s hospital industry, which fears losing more than $1 billion in Low Income Pool funding, which federal officials have linked to lawmakers’ expanding Medicaid.
What is not disclosed in any of Fasano’s tweets or multiple media interviews is that, in addition to his six-figure salary as a public official, he is STILL on the payroll of a Tampa Bay-area hospital.
Fasano confirmed Friday to FloridaPolitics.com’s Mitch Perry that he has a contract with Florida Hospital Tampa (not Florida Hospital, per se) worth $52,000 annually.
As tax collector, Fasano is paid nearly $143,000 a year, more than four times as much as he earned as a lawmaker. To his credit, Fasano has not taken a pay raise since his appointment.
His two salaries combined, Fasano is making nearly $190,000 a year — much, much, much more than the “little guy and gal” he so often reminds other politicians to think about when making decisions.
When Fasano was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the tax collector position, he said he would resign his part-time job once a successor was chosen, according to a report by Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times. Fasano did resign that position but was later asked to consult on local issues.
In previous reporting by both FloridaPolitics.com and The Associated Press, the connection between several Florida senators and the hospital industry was documented. Most notably, Senate President Andy Gardiner is a vice president with Orlando Health, a network of private, nonprofit hospitals that receives state funding.
As Gary Fineout of the AP noted then, a whisper campaign swirling at the end of the legislative session suggested that Gardiner’s motives are due to his employer, and not out of concern for the hospitals dependent on the LIP money.
If Gardiner’s and others’ motives are to be questioned, shouldn’t the noble Mike Fasano’s?
If nothing else, Fasano needs to explain why he continues to remain employed by Florida Hospital Tampa after publicly stating he would step down from his position.
Material from The Associated Press and Tampa Bay Times was used in this post.