Sarasota News Leader

11/16/2012

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Sarasota News Leader November 16, 2012 millions of our taxpayer dollars ... have now gone to other states for critical services that we need here. We simply cannot continue to do this." Over the past two years, the Legislature, dom- inated by a GOP supermajority, has rejected tens of millions of federal healthcare funds be- cause of ideological opposition to the law that allocated the money: Obamacare. Lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott have also declined to set up a public healthcare exchange and have so far refused to expand Medicaid to cover Flo- ridians who are at 133 percent of the federal poverty level or below — both important com- ponents of the federal law. But now that Obama has won a second term, and the survival of his signature legislation is assured, are Florida policy-makers perhaps weakening their absolutist stance? Scott, whose career in politics began with a blister- ing campaign against Obamacare, told the As- sociated Press this week that he is willing to negotiate implementation of the law, a marked change from past public comments. State Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, was the only state lawmaker who attended Tuesday's breakfast. Outgoing state Sen. Mike Bennett was on hand to receive an award for his ser- vice (he called Shea a "wonderful lobbyist," joking, "She will flat wear your ass out."), while staffers for state Sen. Nancy Detert and Reps. Greg Steube and Ray Pilon also attend- ed. No one representing state Reps. Jim Boyd or Darryl Rouson showed up. Holder tells The Sarasota New Leader he thinks the Legislature will perform "a more comprehensive review" of Obamacare, to see Page 29 how it might implement specific programs, a shift from the capital's past "absolute rejec- tion." "That review will probably result in perhaps cherry-picking some of the ideas that are in the healthcare act that will be beneficial to Floridians," Holder says, "and perhaps some of those ideas will be implemented." Ruth Brandwein, representing the local chap- ter of the National Association of Social Work- ers, specifically called on the Legislature to follow through on the Medicaid expansion. She argued the move would save money in the long run by providing preventive care to uninsured patients who today rely on hospital emergency rooms. "If they had regular coverage," she said, "their chronic diseases such as asthma, heart con- ditions, diabetes would be controlled. They wouldn't need hospital care." As she pointed out, taxpayers already foot the bill for hospital patients who cannot pay — our system is already socialized. "We are all paying," she said, "either through our taxes or through our private insurance." The "blue book" of Alliance recommendations handed out Tuesday cites a study showing that "the cost of Medicaid Expansion would be more than offset by savings from reductions in uncompensated hospital care as well as the financial input of billions of Federal dollars pumped into the health care economy. This does not include the savings in lower absentee rates and lost hours of work and productivity due to untreated chronic illnesses." Holder says it is way too early to know how certain policy recommendations will shake

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