Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Charlie Crist hoping to make Florida a little bluer the second time around

Charlie Crist
The hat of Charlie Crist got tossed into the political ring on Friday, November 1st as he announced his intention to run as a Democrat for Florida Governor.

This will not be the first time Mr. Crist has run for the office, having won the 2006 election and served as Florida governor from 2007-2010 as a Republican.

Mr. Crist has come full circle in the last couple of years as he has changed parties from Republican Governor of Florida to Independent in a failed run against Marco Rubio for Senator and then to a Democrat in his most recent appearance on the political scene.

Mr. Crist announced his support for President Obama during the 2012 elections and gave one of the presentations during the Democratic National Convention.  During that appearance, Mr. Crist announced that he "had not left the Republican party...the Republican party left him."  He emphasized that the changing ideology of the party no longer corresponded with his ideas of Republicanism.  He said that although there were differences in some of their political ideas, many of his matched many of President Obama's.

For example, he wants to focus on creating middle class jobs.  He believes it is important to our society and economy to build the infrastructure, improve roads and schools.  He does not want to revamp medicare or social security as most Republicans do, but instead wants to preserve and save medicare and social security.  He believes that the diversity of Florida's growing population is the future of America and must not be ignored.  He supports and will implement all aspects of the Affordable Care Act, giving some in Florida hope that expanded medicaid may have a chance of being implemented if he wins the governorship.  Mr. Crist describes himself as a fiscal conservative but a social moderate.

Some of the positions he took as a Republican have changed in recent months which one could say is to get more in line with the Democratic platform.  For example, as a Republican he opposed the Affordable Care Act but as a Democrat he now supports it.  He said he was pro-life as a Republican but is now pro-choice as a Democrat.  He was against same sex marriage as a Republican, but as a Democrat he now supports it.  This is not to criticize Mr. Crist.  People's ideas can change.

Does Charlie Crist have any chance of winning the Florida governorship from the incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott?  You bet.  Mr. Scott had a very close race in 2010 with the Democrat Alex Sink.  Scott won over Sink by only 1 percentage point.  If Christ does only a little better than Sink did in 2010, he may win the 2014 election.  But Crist's advantage doesn't stop there.

Without even considering the fact that Mr. Crist was once already elected to the position and is a widely known and popular political figure, Mr Scott's popularity may be dwindling.  When polled during 2013, people in the PPP poll favor Crist over Scott.  Most recently the advantage to Crist was  50% to 38%.  Independents favored Crist by 57% to 33% for Scott.  Scott's approval rating in Florida is only 33% while his disapproval rating is 55%.  Most of the major polls favor Crist for Florida Governor by anywhere from 14% to 25% over Scott.

As a state, Florida has shown it can vote for Democrats in the national election and recently more and more voters here are starting to see the Tea Party Republicans as a bit too radical to get re-elected.  The Republican obstruction in the federal government and the radical nature of the new Republican party may be a big advantage to Democratic candidates in upcoming elections.

There's a very good possibility that Democrat Charlie Crist may be Florida's next Governor.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What's wrong with Florida Politicians?

Florida State Flag
Welcome to the first issue of "The FLAP", which is short for "The Florida Politician."  Being a resident of Florida, I am interested in the activities of politicians in our state.  Most of those activities are noteworthy and certainly have the potential to affect our daily lives as citizens of this fine state.

In today's post, I would like to look at two issues that are currently affecting the lives of residents who are sick, unemployed, homeless, disabled, in poverty and anyone who cannot survive without help.  In other words, those people that followers of Jesus would say require our charity, help and love.

The first issue concerns expanded medicaid.  With the arrival of medical care under the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) in 2014, those states who's legislatures are smart businessmen will see state expenditures for medicaid recipients health insurance coverage erased off their books.  This can save many states tens of billions of dollars of state funds.

Some states with Republican governors and/or legislatures have unfortunately allowed Federal

Republicans to distort their view of the Affordable Care Act benefits to the states and in so doing have done themselves, their state and their citizens a disservice. 

It is just bad business for a state to turn away federal money but that's exactly what some foolish state legislatures are doing.  Let me cite an example with the situation in Florida.

Florida's Governor, Rick Scott originally sided with federal Congressional Republicans and supported the "ObamaCare bad" philosophy.  But when Governor Scott began to investigate the advantages of 
implementing expanded medicaid in Florida, he changed his mind.  Unfortunately, most of the GOP in the Florida legislature didn't have the wisdom or understanding that Scott had and now it looks as though Florida will not implement expanded medicaid.

Florida is currently funding medicaid for 3.3 million recipients at a cost of $21 billion a year before ObamaCare.  Half of this cost is shared with the federal government.  Although the intentions of the Florida legislature may have been to not become a partner with the federal government (because ObamaCare is a Democrat idea), they already are partners with them.  So to bite off their own noses to spite their faces, the Republicans in the Florida legislature are willing to give up about $10.5 billion dollars of federal assistance to make an empty gesture of solidarity that will cost Florida tax payers billions.

Under ObamaCare, medicaid's expansion would give health coverage to unemployed persons and people who cannot afford health insurance and are not covered by any company health insurance plan or medicaid recipient class today.  Florida would have been able to add this class of recipient for no additional cost under ObamaCare for the first three years of implementation.  After that, the State would only bear 10% of medicaid costs, which is still a bargain since they are currently paying 50% of the cost. 

When individuals do not have insurance and go to a hospital for medical care, they often go to the emergency room.  Emergency room costs are very high.  Since uninsured patients usually cannot pay their medical bill, hospitals will file with insurance companies and insurance companies will pass that cost along to the rest of us in increased insurance premiums.

Hospitals are more likely to be able to increase employment when more people are covered by an insurance plan and are able to receive medical treatment.  It has been agreed by economists and the medical industry itself that implementation of ObamaCare will give the medical industry a windfall in profits that could easily exceed $60-80 billion over ten years.  This should not be overlooked by the party who only thinks about "jobs, jobs, jobs."

Ultimately, Florida would be able to cover more patients for less cost if the legislature would implement expanded medicaid under the Affordable Healthcare Act.  One would think that the legislature would follow the lead of the Governor but it appears Republicans in the legislature are not in any hurry to start worrying about that.  They could have arranged a special session to vote on implementing it, but failed to do so.  

Perhaps they will give it another try in the upcoming months if enough Floridians urge them to.  It just makes good fiscal sense for states to implement the expanded medicaid program.  It is puzzling why some are not. 

The second issue concerns legislation that prevents the Florida Insurance Commissioner from controlling insurance costs under the Affordable Care Act.  

Perhaps you have seen television ads that claim ObamaCare is the cause of run-away insurance premiums that will be affecting many Floridians.  On its surface, that is a truthful statement, or at most a half truth, but the sponsor of the commercials do not tell the full story.  They stop by blaming the Affordable Care Act and that is the lie.  Floridians can actually place the blame for these increased premiums squarely on their Republican led state legislature and Governor Scott.  

When federal Republicans were leading the charge to defund ObamaCare they enlisted their counterparts in Republican led states, like Florida, to pass laws that would contribute to the illusion that ObamaCare would be bad for America.  

The Florida legislature fell right in line and passed a law that stripped the Florida Insurance Commissioner of the ability to review and control insurance rates under ObamaCare.  To their credit Florida Congressional Democrats sought federal government help to resolve this injustice.  

Florida legislators believed they could turn the premium control mechanism over to the federal government.  As it turned out the federal government has no authority under the law to control state insurance premiums.  The Affordable Care law requires states to control premium pricing through their own insurance commissioners.  

What finally happened was Florida passed Senate bill 1842 which among other things gives a two year free-for-all on insurance rates within Florida before the state insurance commissioner can take over rate monitoring under ObamaCare.  

This gives insurance companies participating in the program carte-blanche to charge any premium rate they want without interference by the Insurance commissioner for that two year period, and some of them may do just that.  

The only protection Floridians have against unreasonable rates from insurance companies comes from an element of the Affordable Care Act law which requires rebates to consumers if more than 20% of the premiums charged goes to management and administrative charges.  Good luck proving that. 

So if you require health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and your rates are a lot higher than you expect, blame the Florida legislature and Governor Scott...not ObamaCare.