Florida House Speaker ‘Not Buying’ ‘Empty Promise’ of Medicaid Expansion

by Betsy Woodruff

Governor Rick Scott might have accepted the Medicaid expansion, but he certainly doesn’t speak for all Florida’s Republican leaders. In his remarks on the opening day of the state house’s 2013 legislative session, speaker of the House Will Weatherford explained his opposition to the move. And since the House could still prevent the expansion, Weatherford and his colleagues could have the proverbial thumb in the dyke that keeps one of Obamacare’s major programs from coming to Florida.  


In the matter of expansion, allow me to depart from the message of the House for a moment, and speak to you about my personal views. First of all, let me say, I believe in the safety net. My family has benefitted from the safety net. As many of you know, I grew up in a family of nine children. My father was self-employed and did the best he could to provide for us but we never had health insurance. We could never afford health insurance. My baby brother Peter was diagnosed with cancer when he was 13 months old. He was in and out of the hospital for seven months. My mom and dad basically lived at the Ronald McDonald House – because they couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel.

After two major surgeries, Peter lost his battle with cancer and my father found himself with a mountain of medical bills that he could never afford to pay. It was the safety net that picked my father up. It was the safety net that picked my family up. I will continue to believe in – and fight for – a strong safety net for Florida. Because the measure of our state is not how well we take care of the rich, but how well we take care of the sickest and weakest among us.

But Members, I also firmly believe that a government that grows too big, becomes too intrusive, and fosters too much dependency will threaten our liberty, our freedom and our prosperity. Members — I am opposed to Medicaid expansion because I believe it crosses the line of the proper role of government. I believe it forces Florida to expand a broken system that we have been battling Washington to fix, and I believe it will ultimately drive up the cost of health care. This inflexible plan, thrust upon us by the federal government, is not aimed at strengthening the safety net. It pushes a social ideology at the expense of our future.

The trouble with this social experiment is that it is destined for failure. The notion that we’re going to receive free money from the federal government is laughable. This is the same federal government that has not passed a budget in nearly four years. This is the same federal government that spends 1.2 trillion dollars more than it takes in in every year. Florida is being tempted with empty promises to comply with policies we would never pay for if we knew the true cost. They’re trying to buy off states one by one. I am not buying it. Florida should not buy it. Because their failure to deliver has such high stakes for Floridians. If they get this wrong, we are on the hook.

It would be far easier for me, and for us, to simply say yes to the so called “free money,” enjoy the accolades for a few years, and leave office knowing that the true cost will come due long after we’re gone. It’s not right, and it’s not what I signed up for.

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