Saturday, February 14, 2009

Florida Republicans Make Medicaid & KidCare Suffer

Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist have left KidCare underfunded. Bush lost $20 million in federal funds for KidCare. Bush intentionally let KidCare funding die. The waiting list for children with medical needs was over 700,000. Parents were greeted with the answering machine message: "It is not possible to tell you where your child is on the wait list or how soon he or she will be enrolled."

Barack Obama's stimulus package may not help Florida KidCare. The state is eligible for $33 billion. The problem is Florida has to match $1 billion for every $2 billion in federal funds. In 2007, Kathy Castor urged Crist to call a special session for KidCare. Crist let Senate President Ken Pruitt let KidCare die in session. The Republican Pruitt blamed KidCare not passing on it's supporters.

"The Senate has been vilified about this, and that's okay, " Pruitt said. "But this didn't happen in the Florida Senate. It's just these providers and these groups finally got together to come up with an agreement, which they didn't, and the process we have here gave them ample time to do it."

How has the Republican-led Florida Senate "been vilified?" Does the GOP want to be known as the party that is against child heath care? Michelle Malkin's attacks on Graeme Frost showed utter insensitively. Republicans demonize children, but support CEO pay raises. Talk about fucked-up priorities.

We now learn Florida is not likely to receive funding for Medicaid.

And Crist's budget writers are going to have to deal with some troublesome details.

For example, the bill provides $87 billion nationally for Medicaid, the federal-state program that pays for medical care for the sick, elderly and poor. Medicaid enrollment in Florida is up by more than 10 percent.

But to qualify for the money, states are required to maintain the same level of Medicaid coverage that they provided in July.

Cut Medicaid as enrollment increases. That was bound to bite Crist and Republicans in the ass. Republicans did health care on the cheap.

"Most of the things in there require us to spend more money in order to get more money," Amy Baker explain, coordinator of the Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research. "So there are going to be hard decisions to make."

Crist and the Florida legislature may have to increase state funding for Medicaid. Florida is in a fiscal deficit. That solution is unlikely.

Policy people need to understand how Florida got into the current health care crisis. The message should be citizens will not tolerate poor health care policies. Preventive health care saves lives and money. Crist and fellow Republican's may have to borrow money to receive Medicaid and KidCare funds. The money would have to be paid back with interest. Fiscally, Republicans counter productive health care policies cost the taxpayer more. Enough is enough.

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