Because Florida is run by former hospital executive Rick Scott, you might assume the state would have a solid health-care system. But Scott is a profiteer whose company stole an unprecedented amount of money from Medicare and Medicaid in the '90s and who as governor then refused to expand Medicaid, campaigned against Obamacare, and did basically everything in his power to make sure it's really difficult for Floridians to get insurance and pay for routine medical care.
Last week, the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit, nonpartisan foundation dedicated to expanding access to health care, released its annual report for all 50 states — and Florida performed abysmally. In fact, by most major metrics, the state's health-care access grew worse since last year: Florida dropped five spots overall, to 48th out of 51 slots (including Washington, D.C.). When it came to "access and affordability," "prevention and treatment," and the disparity between rich and poor, Florida ranked 49th overall — third-worst in America. Plus, each of those metrics got worse in 2018 as opposed to better, as Politico Florida first noted last week.
Only Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Mississippi ranked lower. Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Minnesota made up the top three. Southern states performed poorly overall; when it came to the care disparity between rich and poor citizens, those states reported huge gaps in coverage.
"Socioeconomic disadvantages are a major contributor to disparities in health care and health outcomes across the country," a section of the study on rich/poor disparity reads. "In general, people of color [nationwide] are disproportionately more likely than whites to have lower incomes and to be at risk for health care disparities. Measuring disparities in health care can help to raise awareness of the need for action, but this is only a first step toward achieving equal opportunity for health."
Technically speaking, Florida's child and adult uninsured rates improved this round, but they still rank embarrassingly low (41st and 46th overall) nationwide. The Sunshine State also ranks dreadfully when it comes to "adults who went without care because of cost" (47th in the nation), "adults without a usual source of care" (45th), adult rich/poor insurance access disparity (43rd), "adults without all age-appropriate vaccines" (49th), disparity in rich/poor adults who report poor health (44th), and, truly terribly — 50th overall — in hospital readmissions and Medicaid reimbursements per person. When it came to the gap in rich/poor hospital readmissions (that is, people going to the hospital, leaving, and then needing more care later because they weren't cured), Florida ranked dead last, at 51st.
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In other words: Being poor in this state just might kill you.
Naturally, many of Florida's most prominent politicians have done squat to improve access to health insurance and hospital care statewide. Last year, Sen. Marco Rubio tried to push Congress to repeal Obamacare without a replacement package, something the Congressional Budget Office warned would strip 32 million people of their insurance plans.
Miami Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo voted for the failed American Health Care Act, the Obamacare-repeal package that would have stripped more insurance plans from Miamians compared to residents of any other city in America. Scott advised Donald Trump on how to best push for an Affordable Care Act repeal.
Even Bill Nelson, Florida's Democratic U.S. senator, has yet to endorse the booming "Medicare for All" movement even though the Commonwealth Fund itself suggests that a public health-insurance option — something every other developed nation in the world offers — can lower health-care costs and provide inexpensive, adequate care for people who need it. It's worth noting that every one of those Florida politicians has taken thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from for-profit hospitals and insurance executives.