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Gov. Rick Scott’s Medicaid-expansion backlash

The business community faces taxes and fines due to refusal of federal dollars

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“There’s three words I use to describe this: esoteric, tedious and boring,” Brian Haile, the report’s coauthor and Jackson Hewitt policy expert, said cheerily to CNBC; at the same time, it’s “incredibly expensive to get wrong and ignore.”

According to the Jackson Hewitt report, Florida, which ranks second in the nation for number of uninsured, could be requiring its mid-range employers to pay up to $253 million in unexpected tax fees, money that would likely not be required should the legislature and the governor quit stomping their feet and start behaving like logical adults.

Though sizable, the fees aren’t really a surprise to those who’ve been monitoring the economic ramifications of a national health care overhaul. Indeed, in a fit of political hopscotch, businesses were given a pass on said fees for the Affordable Care Act’s first year (2014), mostly because of the bad public relations that came along with a floundering web launch for the program. But seeing the numbers as actual penalties that must be planned for in fiscal projections could be enough to sway some business lobbies into pushing the legislature to proceed with last year’s Florida Senate plan to expand Medicaid without conceding victory to a black president (yeah, yeah, pretend that’s not true). Hell, even Rick Scott supported expansion for half of a mouth breath.

“This is the employer side being able to quantify the effect,” Kaiser Family Foundation Medicaid expert Diane Rowland told CNBC. “I think as some of these economic arguments come out, the harder it is for some of these political arguments in states where [Medicaid expansion] is still under consideration.” In other words, stop hitting yourself.

Which is exactly the message U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius urged last week when meeting with mayors from across the nation, and something that the Florida Senate seems to be reconsidering for the next legislative session. Last week, state Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, basically re-filed 2013’s Senate compromise that would accept the federal funds without specifically expanding Medicaid (it’s called diversion and distraction, wonks!), calling last year’s House foolishness “irresponsible.”

“I hope the House puts aside partisan politics and does what is right for the hard working people of our great state,” Garcia said in a press release according to Tampa Bay Times. Oh, and also the hard working employers who write your campaign checks, too.

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