Mayor Brown Asks for Emergency Talk with Burwell

May 13, 2015 13 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Governor Rick Scott has been playing a duplicitous game of gay chicken with the Federal government for a couple of years now on the subject of Obamacare. A game which has consequences. It turns out that pandering to his tea party base while serving the interests of the private medical networks that made him into a billionaire has a cost. That cost was presented recently when Secretary Burwell refused to play bait and switch with the Governor anymore. Jacksonville will be one of the worst victims of this wholly avoidable funding catastrophe as it faces the possibility that (UF Health) Shands Hospital will close its doors.

As the Hospital is the largest provider of services to the poorest citizens of duval county and has the largest trauma unit available in the region, a closure of the hospital would be a serious blow to the safety of the public.

Which doesn't appear to matter much to the Governor.  Or for that matter, Lenny Curry, the Republican Party apparatchik who took credit for electing Rick Scott and is presently running for mayor. Curry  brought the issue up during a recent debate in which he underlined how much he opposes working with the government on anything that makes the Affordable Healthcare Act better implemented.

In the meantime, a lot of traffic accidents and burn victims will have their health ransomed for the grand game of politics.

To deal with this emergency, Mayor Brown has decided to make Jacksonville's case directly to Secretary Burwell.

The following letter was sent out earlier today.

For background on this latest political chicanery on the part of the Governor, here is what the Tampa Bay Times reported:

Gov. Rick Scott's meeting Wednesday with the Obama administration's top health care official failed to resolve a funding standoff, prompting him to say he will prepare an emergency "base" budget to keep state government operating after June 30.

"We had a good conversation . . . but we don't have a resolution," Scott said after talking about an hour with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell about renewing a $2.2 billion hospital funding program.

HHS has told Florida the Low Income Pool, or LIP, is being phased out, and the government wants the state to expand Medicaid to cover an additional 800,000 uninsured residents.

The agency said Wednesday that Scott's alternative proposal "falls short."

The Republican governor's plan calls for distributing hospital money more broadly than to a few select hospitals. It would still, however, reward those hospitals that use local dollars to draw down matching money from the federal government.

It does not call for Florida to accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars, as the Florida Senate has proposed. "It's not going to happen," Scott told reporters before the trip to Washington.

Federal health officials said they "heard the governor's request for a timely response to help the state meet its budget deadline," but added that they wanted to wait until the public comment period in Florida ends on May 22 to render a final decision on the plan.

Asked why he waited until April 20 to submit a plan, Scott suggested it was HHS' fault. But HHS informed the state in July 2014 that the LIP would not be extended in current form beyond June 2015.

State Senate Democratic leader Arthenia Joyner of Tampa accused Scott of "rewriting history."

"The low-income families in our state haven't been waiting on the federal government, Gov. Scott, they've been waiting on you," she said in a statement.

The debate dominated the legislative session and contributed to an abrupt adjournment last week and no state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.