Back in 2013, Gov. Rick Scott made one of the biggest political reversals of his career. Fiercely anti-Obamacare from the start, he suddenly announced that he'd agree to a deal to expand Medicaid in Florida as long as the federal government footed the bill.
"A few months ago, my mother passed away, and I lost one of the only constants in my life," read the beginning of the speech Scott deliver to announce his newfound support of Medicaid expansion. "Losing someone so close to you puts everything in a new perspective ... especially the big decisions."
Scott however flip-flopped back to his old anti-Medicaid expansion ways in April as the original deal between Florida and the feds is set to run out, and according to an Associated Press report, he's now admitted that the whole thing was a ruse:
Scott conceded this week that was all a ruse. He now says his support for Medicaid expansion was a calculated move designed to win support from the Obama administration for the state’s proposal to hand over control of Medicaid to private insurance companies. At the time, he denied that his support was tied to a deal with the federal government.
Now that he’s succeeded in privatizing Medicaid, Scott is again railing against Medicaid expansion and is suing the federal government for allegedly forcing it on him.
Oddly, the AP report doesn't include exactly how or to who Scott made the admission, but the wire service rushing out small briefs before fleshing out the story isn't uncommon. Often outlets leak particularly juicy parts of an interview before it's printed or airs in full.
UPDATE: Other outlets are taking issue with the AP's characterization of the remarks.
The AP's story apparently comes from a press availability session that Scott made this afternoon in which a reporter asked him about his previous pro-Medicaid expansion position.
Politico's Marc Caputo offers his take on the interview, which can be watched here.
Nor did Gov Scott say his Medicaid support was merely "a calculated move" to win fed support for a waiver 2— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) May 8, 2015
It is true that when Scott was asked what changed in his Medicaid expansion support he starts talking about the waiver ... 4— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) May 8, 2015
In any event, Scott did announce a position claiming he was partially inspired to do so because of his mother's recent death and then walked back that position. Though, he has not quite admitted it was part of a calculated move to allow the Fed's to approve medicaid privatization.
Original post continues below:
Scott's mention of his then-recently deceased mother in his speech announcing his original 2013 change of heart can't be understated. The remarks as prepared for delivery are still on his official website.
"As I wrestled with this decision, I thought about my mom’s struggles raising five kids with very little money," he said. "I remember my mom’s heartbreak when she could not afford to give my younger brother the treatment he needed when we learned he had a hip disease."
"It was my mom – the wife of a WWII veteran - who taught me something I still believe today: this country is the greatest in the world. America’s greatness is largely because of how we value the weakest among us. Quality healthcare services must be accessible and affordable for all – not just those in certain zip codes or tax brackets."
"While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the cost of new people in Medicaid, I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care," he continued. "We will support a three-year expansion of our Medicaid program under the new healthcare law, as long as the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100 percent of the cost during this time."
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However, that Medicaid expansion legislation Scott said he supported never passed in the legislature. Florida continues to rely on federal money from the Low-Income Pool, which is a pre-Obamacare program that helps states pay for medical care for the uninsured. The Obama administration originally gave Florida a waiver to continue receiving money from the program, but announced that deal would end this June. Under Obamacare legislation, LIP funds were supposed to be phased out completely and replied by Medicaid expansion. However the Supreme Court ruled that states could opt out of Medicaid expansion. Scott went to Washington on Wednesday to try and keep those LIP funds coming, but failed. The Obama administration argues it's more effective to give low-income people health insurance than it is to directly pay hospitals to treat them.
Florida did, however, privatize Medicaid programs for those already on them with approval from the feds in 2013. It appears Scott now pretended to support Medicaid expansion to get approval for that Medicaid privatization.
The debate has also lead to an implosion between the Republican-controlled state House and Senate. Senate leader support expanding Medicaid. House leaders are dead set against it. They closed up shop four days earlier than expected as a political stunt, and the two houses will meet in a special session in June to hammer out the details.
The results will effect about million uninsured people in Florida.