Florida Gov. Rick Scott Says He Won’t Implement Obamacare

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says that his state will not implement the federal health care law because it’s bad policy and cost too much.

The governor told Fox News he thinks the law should be repealed, hopefully by Mitt Romney in November. But in the case that President Obama wins a second term he said Florida will not be setting up a health-insurance exchange nor will they expand Medicaid.

“We’re not going to implement Obamacare in Florida,” Scott told Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren on Friday night. “We’re not going to expand Medicaid because we’re going to do the right thing. We’re not going to do the exchange.”

State Rep. Mark Pafford, the ranking Democrat on the Florida House committee that handles health care funding, said he was not surprised.

“This is a guy who was in the private sector. He created an organization to fight the Affordable Care Act,” said Pafford, of West Palm Beach. “He then was so upset that he became governor using his own money. So it wouldn’t make sense that he would do anything else.”

Under the Affordable Care Act law, states must implement a health insurance exchange by 2014, a Web-based marketplace where people can shop for insurance, or defer to a federal program. States need to submit plans to the federal government that demonstrate their readiness to launch health exchanges by Nov. 16. States also must decide whether to move forward with an expansion of Medicaid to reduce the number of uninsured residents.

In Florida about 3.8 million people, or 21 percent, are uninsured.

The Supreme Court ruling made it clear that states can not be financially penalized for non-compliance. The federal government has promised to cover nearly all of the costs of the Medicaid expansion in the early years, but Scott said Medicaid is already too expensive and the expansion would put further strain on the state budget.

“We care about having a health care safety net for the vulnerable Floridians,” Scott said on Fox. “But this is an expansion that just doesn’t make any sense.”

Many of the most popular aspects of the Affordable Care Act are already in effect and do not require state involvement. That includes provisions like prescription drug discounts for seniors, allowing young adults to remain on parents’ insurance plans and free preventative care.

Scott said other Republican governors agreed their focus should be fighting the law and supporting Romney, including Rick Perry of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

“Here in Louisiana, look, we refused to set up the exchange. We’re not going to start implementing Obamacare,” Jindal told POLITICO. “We have not applied for the grants, we have not accepted many of these dollars, we are not implementing the exchanges, we don’t think it makes any sense to implement Obamacare in Louisiana.”

Scott said the governors arrived at the same conclusion that expanding Medicaid and creating exchanges are not good for taxpayers.

“We care about the citizens of our state,” he said. “We know this will be bad for our health care. We want jobs in our state. This is going to put American businesses at an unbelievable disadvantage as compared to businesses around the world.”

Scott cited the law’s requirement for businesses to offer insurance to employees. He told Van Susteren a story about a Florida business owner who said he may have to shut his doors.

“They walked up to me and they said, ‘Governor, is this really going to become the law? Because if it does, we’re out of business,’ ” Scott said. “ ‘We have 20 employees; we know we won’t be able to buy any health care for anybody.’ ”

The law actually grants companies with fewer than 50 employees an exemption from any requirement to buy insurance.

One of Scott’s biggest concerns is the cost of adding an estimated 1 million people to the Medicaid rolls.

“We can’t pay for that; there is no way Floridians can pay for that,” he said.

Democrat Rep. Pafford believes that Republican lawmakers should be embracing provisions that expand health care access, he said, and new revenue streams like a tax on internet commerce could help pay for it.

“We can afford it,” he said. “There are plenty of ways to do that. They just don’t want to afford it.”

The Legislature sets the budget, so it will ultimately decide whether or not to allocate money to implement provisions of the health care law.

Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz said he and incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford will work with the governor’s office in reaching a final decision. But for now, they are waiting on staff to digest what the court ruling means and its impact, Gaetz said.

“It’s not a matter of not having made up my mind yet, it’s a matter that this 110-page opinion, which is nearly as complex as the law itself, is not 48 hours old yet,” said Gaetz, R-Niceville. “I believe in ‘ready, aim, fire,’ not ‘ready, fire, aim.’ ”

Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said there isn’t an immediate need to move forward on implementing the law. There is no harm in waiting a few months to see if the outcome of the November election changes the political climate, he said.

“There is an opportunity to bring new leadership to the United States of America,” he said, “and if that happens it’s going to change everything.”

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Peter Schiff Explains Why Obamacare is Unconstitutional

Up to 17 Million Poor People May Still lack Coverage Despite Affordable Care Act Being Upheld

Millions of poor Americans may still be left without  health insurance despite the Supreme Court upholding President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court ruling did not give individuals the option to opt of the law’s mandate but states were granted the option to not expand their Medicaid programs leaving coverage for at least 17 million poor people in limbo.

Republican officials in more than a half-dozen states said they are either opposed to or had serious doubts about expanding Medicaid, regardless if the federal government picks up all the costs in the first few years and covers at least 90 percent of the expenses after that.

In writing the law, Congress assumed that the poorest uninsured people would gain coverage through Medicaid, while some people with slightly higher incomes would receive federal subsidies to buy private insurance. Now, poor people who live in a state that decides to not expand its Medicaid program will find themselves unable to obtain either Medicaid or subsidies.

Under the law, subsidies are available to people with incomes from the poverty level up to four times that amount, but not to people with incomes below the poverty level ($23,050 for a family of four).

Governors in Kansas, Nebraska and South Carolina, among other states, have said they would have difficulty affording even the comparatively small share of costs that states would eventually have to pay.

Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, a Republican who is chairman of the National Governors Association, indicated that he was against expanding Medicaid eligibility.

“As I have said repeatedly, if this unfunded Medicaid expansion is implemented, state aid to education and funding for the University of Nebraska will be cut or taxes will be increased,” Mr. Heineman said.

In South Carolina, Rob Godfrey, a spokesman for Gov. Nikki R. Haley, said, “We’re not going to shove more South Carolinians into a broken system that further ties our hands when we know the best way to find South Carolina solutions for South Carolina health problems is through the flexibility that block grants provide.”

In New Hampshire, State Representative Andrew J. Manuse said he and other Republicans were already working to block the expansion of Medicaid. “We can’t afford it,” Mr. Manuse said. “It’s as simple as that. Thank God the Supreme Court gave us an option.”

Republican governors in Wisconsin and Louisiana said they would wait to see the results of November’s elections before deciding whether to expand Medicaid, in the hope that Mitt Romney will be elected president and undo the health care law. “That’s why we have refused to implement the Obamacare health exchange or the Medicaid expansion,” said Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

“Because the expansion is such a good deal for states, they should move forward and cover low-income adults in their states,” said Judith Solomon, a health policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research and advocacy group. “But what happens in states that do not go ahead and provide coverage? The poorest adults — primarily parents and other adults working for low wages — will be left out in the cold.”

Richard J. Umbdenstock, the president of the American Hospital Association, said that hospitals around the country would lobby for the Medicaid expansion. “If states do not avail themselves of this opportunity,” he said, “the federal money will go to other states, and hospitals will be left with large numbers of the uninsured.”

Nancy M. Schlichting, chief executive of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, said she “absolutely will lobby” for the expansion of Medicaid. She said she expected Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, to support the expansion, but she added, “he may have trouble” getting it through the Michigan Legislature.

Congress has repeatedly expanded Medicaid in the last 25 years, and states often had new sources of revenue, like money from the settlement of lawsuits against major tobacco companies. “But this time is different,” said Dennis G. Smith, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. “Virtually all states are struggling to sustain their current Medicaid programs.”

Illinois, facing severe financial problems, has already delayed Medicaid payments to some health care providers.

“Many hospitals are not being paid for six months or more after they provide services and file claims,” said Danny Chun, a spokesman for the Illinois Hospital Association. “Illinois is dead broke.”

Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare

In a clear cut victory for President Obama, the Supreme Court upheld his signature legislative achievement, the 2010 Affordable Care Act this Thursday.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion, who held that the law was a valid exercise of Congress’s power to tax. Congress, he said, is “increasing taxes” on those who choose to go uninsured.

The law requires non-exempted individuals to maintain a minimum level of health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Why certain individuals are exempt while others are not remains an issue of contention for many.

The essence of Roberts’s ruling was:

•       “The Affordable Care Act is constitutional in part and unconstitutional in part,”.

•       “The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it.”

•       But “it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but (who) choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.”

The law, Roberts wrote, “makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income and if the mandate is in effect just a tax hike on certain taxpayers who do not have health insurance, it may be within Congress’s constitutional power to tax.”

He said “The question is not whether that is the most natural interpretation of the mandate, but only whether it is a ‘fairly possible’ one and that the Supreme Court precedent is that “every reasonable construction” of a law passed by Congress “must be resorted to, in order to save a statute from unconstitutionality.”

In 2005, then Senator Obama voted against confirming Roberts as chief justice, saying that Roberts lacked empathy for underdogs and “he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak.”

Vice President Biden also voted against Roberts when he was a senator.

The four justices joining Roberts in upholding the law were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The dissenting justices were Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

Individuals who choose to or can not afford health insurance, and are not eligible for subsidies, will be penalized by the government increasingly year after year starting at $95 in 2014, rising to $325 in 2015, and up to $695 in 2016. After 2016, that $695 amount is indexed to the consumer price index.

Congress specifically did not allow the use of liens and seizures of property as methods of enforcing the penalty nor is non-compliance with the mandate subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Tax Code. Interest does not accrue for failure to pay the penalty in a timely manner, according to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

The court said that the Obama administration cannot coerce states to go along with the Medicaid insurance program for low-income people.

The financial pressure which the federal government puts on the states in the expansion of Medicaid “is a gun to the head,” Roberts wrote.

“A State that opts out of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion in health care coverage thus stands to lose not merely ‘a relatively small percentage’ of its existing Medicaid funding, but all of it,” Roberts said.

Congress cannot “penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding,” Roberts said.

The Medicaid provision is projected to add nearly 30 million more people to the insurance program for low-income Americans — but the court’s decision left states free to opt out of the expansion if they choose.

Supreme Court Ruling Allows Strip-Searches for Minor Arrests

The Supreme Court on Monday voted 5-to-4 that authorities may strip-search people for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if there is no suspicion of the presence of contraband.

“Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed,” Justice Kennedy wrote, adding that about 13 million people are admitted each year to the nation’s jails.

10 states and are at odds with the policies of federal authorities. According to a supporting brief filed by the American Bar Association, international human rights treaties also ban the procedures.

Daron Hall, the president of the American Correctional Association and sheriff of Davidson County, Tenn., said the association welcomed the flexibility offered by the decision. The association’s current standards discourage blanket strip-search policies.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the four dissenters, said the strip-searches the majority allowed were “a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy” and should be used only when there was good reason to do so.

Justice Breyer said that the Fourth Amendment should be understood to bar strip-searches of people arrested for minor offenses not involving drugs or violence, unless officials had a reasonable suspicion that they were carrying contraband.

According to opinions in the lower courts, people may be strip-searched after arrests for violating a leash law, driving without a license and failing to pay child support. Citing examples from briefs submitted to the Supreme Court, Justice Breyer wrote that people have been subjected to “the humiliation of a visual strip-search” after being arrested for driving with a noisy muffler, failing to use a turn signal and riding a bicycle without an audible bell.

A nun was strip-searched, he wrote, after an arrest for trespassing during an antiwar demonstration.

 

 

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