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Integrity or hypocrisy?

September 20, 2017
Lehigh Acres Citizen

To the editor:

Florida is beginning to recover from Irma. While not as devastating as feared, lives were lost and property was destroyed. Millions left without power are seeing it slowly restored. Thousands find themselves homeless. Even so, Floridians will work together and move on. Throughout the frightening upheaval Gov. Rick Scott gave periodic updates, delivered from prepared text with little emotion. One such address was infuriating. Praising our great state, he said Florida is known for its universities, football teams, beaches, tourist attractions, and weather. Then, after a dramatic pause added, "Its greatest resource is its people." Think about it. Florida's greatest resource is its people. People who lost homes, were injured or are suffering the deaths of loved ones. But sadly, many of them are without health care coverage. Rick Scott and his Republican legislature could have provided them health coverage by voting to expand Medicaid. That's right, health coverage for the working poor earning $600 to $1,600 per month was denied by Scott. Stripping away his pleasantries and platitudes all that's left is hypocrisy.

If Florida's greatest resource is its people, why turn down billions of federal tax dollars, money already paid by those same people? Why leave 800,000 Floridians without health coverage, many of them now without homes and injured? What about the Republican State House that voted to kill a bipartisan Senate compromise that would have covered 450,000 Floridians? Even that compromise was turned back by the Republican House and an indifferent Rick Scott. To be clear, under the expansion, the federal government pays 100 percent for four years and pays 90 percent of six more years. Florida's 10 percent share for those last six years would be less than 1 percent of Florida's $85 billion budget. And Florida's Republicans would not accept the money!

Matt Caldwell, representative for District 79, including Lehigh Acres, Alva, Ft. Myers Shores, Buckingham and North Fort Myers, voted no to 450,000 Floridians. He refused to even consider covering 800,000 Floridians who sorely needed health care. A majority of states, both red and blue, voted to expand Medicaid, accept federal tax dollars, and the tens of thousands of jobs the money would create. Why didn't Florida? Because it was an admission that Obamacare was worthwhile, at least in part. Accepting Medicaid was at odds with the Republican campaign chant, "repeal Obamacare." So, putting party over principle, power over people, Florida's Republican controlled legislature and its Republican governor threw 800,000 Floridians to the wind, many of them now suffering from Hurricane Irma without health coverage.

Gov. John Kasich (R) told his Republican legislature that he would veto any bill not including Medicaid expansion, explaining that the billions of dollars Ohio would get, the jobs the money would create, and the health of Ohio residents that would be safeguarded, came before partisan politics. He said those considerations took priority over ill-conceived partisan attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Gov. Kasich's integrity is in sharp contrast to Rick Scott and Matt Caldwell's hypocrisy and cowardice.

Expanding Medicaid is an easy decision. It is both fiscally and socially responsible. It is good for business and for employees.

I call on Matt Caldwell to vote now to expand Medicaid. He and other Republicans can do so next month during Special Session.

I also ask candidates tell the electorate today, without equivocation, how they will vote if elected. Will they vote for Floridians throughout our wonderful state, and particularly those in District 79, or against them? For integrity or hypocrisy? Now is the time for us all to stand up and be counted.

Mark Lipton


Florida House, District 79

North Fort Myers



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