Reporting Tim Kephart
Legislative Session Coverage
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Governor Rick Scott has been the most vocal governor fighting against the Affordable Care Act; but in an interview with CBS This Morning Thursday, Scott indirectly made the case for the individual mandate while discussing how to fix the insurance industry.
Scott, a former health care leader, has vowed to reject any federal funding and will not expand the state’s Medicaid funding. Scott said Medicaid is growing at three-and-a-half times the general revenue and that’s not going to be expanded under his watch.
“We can’t afford it,” Scott told CBS. “We already went through this with the stimulus where they put money into our education system, then took it away and our schools relied on it. I don’t want to do the same things for our citizens.”
Scott’s argument using the stimulus is a little tougher to make because in nearly every month since the stimulus was enacted, more private sector jobs have been created.
Florida is currently tied with New Mexico and Nevada for next to last in the country with 21 percent of the citizens uninsured, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Scott issued a press release last week that said it would cost Florida $1.9 billion to expand Medicaid under the new rules.
Politifact said Scott’s claim was false and reported that the true amount of new costs for the state would be roughly $500 million and that cost would not fully be implemented until 2020. Scott didn’t deny what Politifact said, but said it’s all a question of which numbers you utilize in your argument.
“If you look at the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, they said for the first six year the expansion would cost the state $1.2 to $2.5 billion and cost the federal government $20 to $25 billion,” Scott told CBS This Morning. “It depends on what number you want to use; how fast it will be implemented. But the truth is, it’s a lot of money, whatever the number is.”
Scott several times throughout the interview said the focus should be on jobs, not necessarily health care. It’s the same message he’s had since he began his campaign for governor in 2010.
“Our citizens want jobs. That’s what I’m focusing on,” Scott said. “The most important thing is to work on getting everyone a job. We still have 800,000 people out of work.”
CBS This Morning flatly asked Scott that if the Affordable Care Act isn’t the answer to start fixing health care in the country; what is the best plan?
“Make sure the industry works on cutting costs,” Scott said, “How you, through competition, can drive down the cost.”
That was the same argument the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats, along with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, made in selling the individual mandate. The theory behind it was that by getting more healthy people insured, it would increase the overall pool of insurance and drive down costs.
“Make sure you allow people to buy the insurance they want to buy,” Scott continued. “Those are the things that will make it easier for people to get insurance.”