The state of Florida will not expand Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that provides access to health care for low-income Americans, under any structure or scheme this year. That’s been decided, semi-officially, since the state House of Representatives voted down their Senate counterpart’s FHIX proposal on a June 5th vote in this month’s special legislative session. The rest of this month has been the usual back-and-forth over a new budget. Inside the margins, the standard people will win. Outside, those other people will lose, including some-odd three-quarters of a million working Floridians.
Like one of my coworkers, who missed several days at her job this past week due to a semi-serious illness. She’s a middle-aged woman of color and a part-time service worker who also spends some of her time caring for a special needs relative. Occupying that space leaves her uninsured, obviously, falling into a social services gap where she earns too much money to qualify for traditional Medicaid eligibility and far too little to receive federal subsidies for private coverage on Healthcare.gov. After much back and forth between various pharmacies and health care clinics she managed to snag a rare prescription drug discount card to get the medicine she needed. For her, and many others with similar stories, it was a small crisis endured and larger crisis avoided. This time, at least.
Such anecdotes are easy to come by, but in this round of failed health care reform in the Sunshine State the solution was probably always too difficult to hope for something different — something, or anything, better than the status quo for precarious Floridians. A majority of Republican state lawmakers agreed that forcing some people to remain uninsured, who will then face a greater threat to health and life, was worth it to “oppose an ideology that has failed for decades.” In the meantime Florida legislators will end up getting their ~$400 billion in tax cuts, and continue to receive their own dirt-cheap publicly-subsidzed health insurance. Like I said, the standard people will win. I just wish some of the folks I know were included.