In a week filled with more eye-catching stories like the Oscar Pistorius murder saga and the looming "Republiquester", it's perhaps not surprising that Healthcare news isn't on the front burner. But make no mistake... some news out of the Sunshine State is THE most important story of this week.
Last summer, after the Supreme Court's shocking decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, Republicans immediately stood up in defiance. The Governors of Texas, Florida, Arizona and other GOP-led states pledged then and there to fight every provision of Obamacare until their last breath. Florida Governor Rick Scott could be said the main instigator of this... after all it was his state that was the first to file suit against the law.
In a shocking policy reversal, the Florida Governor now supports Medicaid expansion... a most central tennet of the Affordable Care Act. His direct quote from is so dumbfounding, I have to share directly from the Tampa Bay Times...
"While the federal government is committed to pay 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians the needed access to health care," Scott said at a hastily called news conference at the Governor's Mansion.
So basically... Rick Scott had to eat it. He finally sat down at his desk, looked at the PEOPLE and the MATH converging, and decided that the lives of over 1 million Floridians would benefit from Obamacare's Medicaid provision. Make no mistake, this is a humongous win for President Obama and the Democrats, but more importantly, it's a win for the life and health of the citizens of Florida. If the state legislature follows Governor Scott's lead, lives will be saved in Florida. People will get care in Florida.
Now on to the true point of this article... when is Texas Governor Rick Perry going to see the ligtht as well? For all that Florida stands to benefit fom Medicaid expansion, Texans are in an even greater need.
Here are some sobering facts from the Texas Medical Association...
-1 in 4 Texans are uninsured. That's over over 6.2 million people as of 2010, and more people than any other state in the nation.
-These uninsured people have no but choice to seek the emergency room. As a result they drive up Healthcare costs for everyone else. The average cost to treat a minor ailment in the Doctors office? $56.21. In the emergency room? $193.92. That's almost 4 times the expense as it would be going to the doctor for a similar ailment (much less waiting until it becomes WORSE). Guess who absorbs those costs? And Texans wonder why our healthcare costs are soaring.
-Only 50% of working Texans have health insurance... 49th in the country. The common misconception here is that employers are supposed to offer some form of a health insurance plan. That wasn't actually a law until the passage of the Affordable Care Act. As a right-to-work state with a plethora of low-wage jobs, Texas companies have very little incentive to offer health insurance. So contrary to popular belief, it's not just those on welfare in Texas that are struggling to find health care. It's many of the employed public too.
Let's get personal for a second. The "bleeding-heart Liberal" in me wants to thank Rick Scott for his moment of clarity and sincerity, and celebrate this win for Florida, Democrats and affordable Health Care. But this is NOT the time to become complacent. The moment is now to put pressure on Governor Perry to do the math for our state. Even as he touts the "smoke and mirrors" budget surplus, Texas families are being devastated by employers that refuse to even offer health insurance (and are trying to sue their way out of it now that it's mandated by Obamacare), and are continuing to lose sleep over that nagging health issue that they simply can't afford to deal with this month... or the next... or the next... until it's too late and becomes a life-or-death issue. We know that Medicaid isn't perfect, but it's a VAST improvement from "CrisisCaid"- the spiral so many Texans face where the emergency room is their only option. This is the moment for Texas Democrats to put pressure on the Governor. With now 7 GOP-led states biting their tongue, Rick Perry will be forced to follow suit. And if even doesn't, Texas Democrats should carry it all the way to the 2014 ballot box.
So Gov... what's it gonna be? That clock is still a-tickin'.