How dumb is the continued refusal of Florida's GOP-dominated legislature to accept the federally funded Medicaid expansion? So dumb that even Gov. Rick Scott -- who essentially ran on an anti-Obamacare platform -- reversed course last year and admitted, yeah, a state full of uninsured poor folks probably should let the feds help out with the doctors' bills.
Scott's reversal on the issue wasn't enough to convince Tallahassee, though, and this morning comes a new estimate from the White House on another cost of their refusal to expand Medicaid coverage: 63,000 new Florida jobs.
That figure comes from "Missed Opportunities," a new study out this morning from the Council of Economic Advisors that looks at the effects in states that refused to join in the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion. Obamacare provided billions in new funding to states that expanded the program to include non-elderly families that fall more than 133 percent below the poverty line.
Florida is especially in need of the assistance. One in every five non-elderly residents in the state is uninsured; that doesn't just hurt those residents when they get sick, it also drives up health care costs for everyone else in the state through a lack of preventative care and a tendency to end up in the E.R. for treatable problems.
Scott himself recognized that fact in February 2013, when he backtracked on his opposition. "While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the costs, I cannot deny Floridians who need access to health care," he said at the time.
The legislature, though, still refused to back the plan. This morning's report says that in addition to all the health care cost inflation, that stubborn position has cost the Sunshine State 63,000 health care jobs that would have come with the federal cash.
The report relies on a variety of studies and notes that projections are "imperfect" but that "this evidence is clear that the consequences of States' decisions are far-reaching, with implications for the health and well-being of their citizens, their economies, and the economy of the Nation as a whole."
The Florida GOP's response? No dice, Obama. "I am skeptical of the job creation numbers generated by the president's office," outgoing House speaker Will Weatherford tells the Herald this morning.
Here's the report: