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White House on the economic impact of refusing to expand Medicaid

Florida politicians still skeptical about benefit of providing assistance

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Before you nod off at the sheer boredom of numbers being thrown at your face, there were plenty more numbers – some attributed to things that might make you feel – buried in the report. By the White House’s calculations, tens of thousands of Floridians living on the margins would have had a fair shot at mammograms, pap smears and treatment for mental health issues like depression. The Florida Community Health Action Information Network seized on the digits, with chief executive officer Leah Barber-Heinz issuing a statement basically demanding that Tallahassee wise up.

“Our lawmakers need to move forward with health care expansion to cover the over 800,000 Floridians stuck in the coverage gap,” she said. “Florida is throwing away new jobs and sending our tax dollars to states that are expanding, when instead we could be investing that money here at home.”

Surely those weighted fighting words would gain some traction among the wrinkle-free dress-shirt crowd of the Legislature, right? Hmm, let’s see what our accidental three-night-(keg)-stand House Speaker Will Weatherford grunted to the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday. After pretending he had never seen us before in his life (except that one time at Hobby Lobby), he said, “based on the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, the lack of information on the federal budget impact and the ever-changing rules and regulations, I am skeptical of the job-creation numbers generated by the president’s office.” Weatherford, we should note, doesn’t know what the word “skeptical” means.

On the Senate side, Orlando’s own kinder, gentler incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner channeled Cher’s third single from the Believe album, saying, “Unfortunately, the federal government in their mandate is all or nothing. I think that’s one of the things that adds to the challenge.”

Everyone, apparently, is afraid they’re going to have their hands cut off eventually if they stick them in the federal cookie jar. So, basically, the White House continues to tout numbers consistent with its plan for full Obamacare enactment, while stubborn Republicans throw the same “skeptical” shade they’ve been shadowing for the past two years. Nothing’s changed. Nothing likely will.

“We can have a legitimate discussion about priorities and the fiscally responsible way to handle this,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, according to the Times. “But what is difficult for Republicans to explain is why they would block legislation that would expand access to health care for hundreds of thousands of Florida residents when it wouldn’t cost the state a single dime, at least for the next three years.”

Not as difficult as it should be, really.

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