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Dr's In: Employers lose without Obamacare Medicaid Dollars

Refusing to expand Medicaid and accept the huge amount of federal money that goes with it continues to haunt Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Legislature.

Without the expansion many working Floridians who earn between the poverty line and 138 percent of poverty will go without health insurance. A Jackson Hewitt tax service report estimates that 214,000 full-time workers fall into that income range.

Some 84,000 of them are provided health insurance through their employer. The remainder will either go uninsured or have to find insurance via the healthcare insurance exchange provided under Affordable Care Act. The companies employing those workers will face fines of $2,000 to $3,000 for each worker seeking eligibility through the exchange.

An Associated Press report says that the penalties could cost Florida businesses $169 million to $253 million.

There appears to be some bipartisan momentum to expand Medicaid, but Republican House Speaker Will Weatherford and the House continue to oppose it. Under the expansion, the federal government will pay all of the cost of expansion for three years and 90 percent after that.

The Leon County Commission recently debated the expansion. One commissioner presented a motion to send a resolution to state officials asking them to readdress Medicaid expansion. The motion died for lack of a second. A 2013 Robert Wood Johnson report says that 19 percent of Leon County’s 284,000 residents have no health insurance.

One has to ask the commissioners, “How do you sleep at night?” There will be deaths and disabilities among the uninsured.  Responding to the predictable outcry, the Leon County Commissioners may be reconsidering the resolution. Without the expansion money, about 1 million Floridians will lose their opportunity for coverage. About 4.5 million Floridians lack health insurance.

The Tampa Bay area will be hard hit without the expansion money. In Hillsborough, the state's fourth most populous county, 21 percent are uninsured -- a total of 220,000 people.

In the Tampa Bay area, Sarasota has the highest percentage of uninsured people at 27 percent. Rounding out Bay Area counties are Manatee at 26 percent, Polk at 23 percent, Hernando at 21 percent, Pinellas at 19 percent, and Pasco 22 percent.

Florida’s uninsured between birth and age 64 remains at 25 percent, well above the national average of 18 percent. Florida residents rank a dismal 34th in the nation for their health status, according to the Kaiser Foundation.

Aside from the billions of dollars lost to healthcare providers because the state has rejected the Medicaid money, employers may now be subject to severe financial penalties. If the Scott administration is the friend of the private sector, who needs enemies?

Companies that are considering moving to Florida or expanding here may be having second thoughts.

The Scott administration and the Legislature must expand Medicaid, accept the federal money that goes with it and stop playing politics with the lives, health and welfare of Florida’s citizens.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

jharring3930 January 29, 2014 at 09:28 AM
Good job Marc. Keep up the good work.
vincent gimble January 29, 2014 at 11:22 AM
Trouble is that rick Scott is a shameful governor who vehemently opposes the poor, the disabled and minorities. He automatically opposed anything proposed by the Obama administration just because he can. Will Weatherford is no different. We have another full year to boot this joker out of office and I'm afraid he'll do much more to further wreck and shame Florida to the outside world. He is mean, cruel and spiteful because he can be and there's no one who can stop him. The worst about this governor is that he refuses to be accountable to the people or the news media. Under his very bad example & leadership, Florida is the laughing stock of the nation.
Marc J. Yacht MD, MPH January 29, 2014 at 11:42 AM
Agree fully, the answer is at the ballot box. Voter apathy is a huge problem. Without a strong showing at the polls by those tired of the Scott agenda, we may have another 4 years of the same or worse.
m carlisle January 29, 2014 at 02:26 PM
As disliked as this governor is, I would be surprised people do not show up to vote him out. Shame on them if they don't. Florida is not a progressive state and we have all the resources to be a leader in the 21st century. I have lived for many years without insurance, and learned to be my own doctor. The most valuable information that I've gained is diet is the root of most problems outside of accidents. I would love to see a lot more emphasis on preventive care. By my personal observations of what many people eat, there needs to a stronger campaign against poor dietary habits and the real havoc they cause. I don't believe most people realize how much an ingredient such as sugar can affect them, both physically and psychologically. Unfortunately, the grocery, and junk food industry's lobbyists are much more influential than the organic and health food industries. Not to mention companies such as Monsanto, who pervade our food safety and judicial arms of the government; preventing consumers from even knowing whether their food includes genetically modified ingredients. For me, not having access to conventional health care has been a blessing in disguise in that regard. God help me if I ever have an accident though, I work part-time but not eligible for health care or Medicaid.
Marc J. Yacht MD, MPH January 29, 2014 at 04:10 PM
Not having health care can cause serious financial burdens should you become ill. Sadly, the uninsured pay the most for their health care. They do not have the benefit of the contracts insurers have with providers of care (hospitals, doctors, etc.). Good dietary habits will cut down your need for health care but not all medical problems will be resolved through diet and exercise. One serious illness can bankrupt a family. As for this governor, voters who want him out - need to vote- absolutely.

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