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No compromise in sight, health care deal likely dead

Despite promises they would work toward middle ground, House and Senate leaders have been unable to reach agreement on health care reform and the session has only two days left. Both sides rejected Medicaid expansion but have very different ideas about what should be done instead.

An excerpt from the story in Thursday's paper:

While Gov. Rick Scott early on endorsed a plan to expand Medicaid, and subsequently the federally funded alternative offered by the Senate, House leaders always were an impediment. House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, made it clear on Day 1 of the 60-day lawmaking session when he called Medicaid expansion a "social experiment" that is doomed to fail.

"I believe it crossed the line of the proper role of government," Weatherford said in his opening day speech to lawmakers. "Florida should not buy it."

Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said the speech painted Weatherford into a corner. Worse yet, he brought the Republican caucus with him. Fasano was the lone GOP House member to vote to accept federal money.

Now no one wants to cave, even though taking the money should be a no-brainer, Fasano said, noting that the health expansion would be 100 percent federally funded for the first three years.

As a result, the Capitol resembles a dysfunctional family. Depending on who you ask, the older brother Senate is either wiser or unreasonable. The younger brother House is either innovative or unrealistic.

Gov. Rick Scott is the absent father.

Read more here.


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No More Rick Scott

The Florida governor founded Solantic in 2001, only a few years after he resigned as the CEO of hospital giant Columbia/HCA amid a massive Medicare fraud scandal. In January, according to the Palm Beach Post, he transferred his $62 million stake in Solantic to his wife, Ann Scott, a homemaker involved in various charitable organizations.

Florida Democrats and independent legal experts say this handover hardly absolves Scott of a major conflict of interest. As part of a federally approved pilot program that began in 2005, certain Medicaid patients in Florida were allowed to start using their Medicaid dollars at private clinics like Solantic. The Medicaid bill that Scott is now pushing would expand the pilot privatization program to the entire state of Florida, offering Solantic a huge new business opportunity.

"This is a conflict of interest that raises a serious ethical issue," says Marc Rodwin, a medical ethics professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. "The public should be thinking and worrying about this."



Governor Scott is the poster child for Republican leadership and ethics. If there is a way to funnel public money into private hands, a Republican will be there to facilitate the transfer and collect his/her share. If the public interest is not served by the transaction, that is an inconsequential factor. The public re-elects Republicans annually, so the public is stupid anyway.

M.A. Salfinger

This has been the most unproductive legislative session ever!

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