Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford's father said his family relied on Medicaid when his family was uninsured and needed medical care for Weatherford's brother. (I added my thoughts on the story here.) At the time Speaker Weatherford said he didn't think that was the case.
Well, apparently after sifting through his "cloudy recollections" Weatherford now says that yes, his family did in fact use Medicaid, which he is now denying, and will still deny for Floridians.
He has released a formal statement to "clearly" identify "the safety net that benefitted my family." That "clearly identified benefit" being Medicaid.
So his family used Medicaid, which he and House Republicans are denying for low income, uninsured Floridians now. In spite of the fact that he's been forced to admit this, he's still basically saying Medicaid was "fine for me, but not for thee." Nothing has changed.
Here is his full statement:
“Yesterday, I spoke about the death of my brother Peter and my family’s personal struggles. The hospital bills that accumulated from the wonderful care Peter received were insurmountable. We did not have health insurance because we couldn’t afford it.
“In speaking with my father prior to sharing this story, he believed the safety net that supported us was as a result of private and government funded charity. He did not believe that we were enrolled in Medicaid. After being questioned further by a reporter, my father recalled signing paperwork that may have resulted in Peter receiving Medicaid assistance after his surgery.
“As a result, my family worked to verify exactly what form of the safety net helped us in our time of need. Today, we learned that Peter was covered under the Medically Needy program, which is a temporary month to month form of assistance, while at All Children’s Hospital.
“It is not surprising that recollections would be cloudy surrounding a time of great sorrow and difficulty. Now that the safety net that benefitted my family has been clearly identified, I trust that the debate can return to the important question of Medicaid expansion and its impact on the economic and personal freedom of Floridians.
“As I stated yesterday, I believe in the safety net. My family benefitted from the safety net. Children living in poverty today are offered coverage under Medicaid or Kidcare in Florida. Expanding Medicaid will not extend coverage to a single low-income child under 18 in Florida because they are already covered, just like Peter was.
“The inflexible law that has been pushed down to states like Florida does not allow us to target populations that are vulnerable, but requires us to provide full coverage to populations that we have never covered before.
There is no dispute that private insurance is better for the health, welfare, and true needs of Floridians. I look forward to continuing to work with the Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to investigate options that may be better for our state.”
Yes........so, what's your point?
Let's "clearly identify" a few of them here.
First, he says "Expanding Medicaid will not extend coverage to a single low-income child under 18 in Florida because they are already covered" just like his brother was. So by his logic, he's saying anyone over 18 who is uninsured, as Weatherford's family was, who would benefit from Medicaid.....I'm sorry, who would benefit from a "safety net," just doesn't count as far as he is concerned. If that happens to be you, well, too bad. Perhaps you could hold a bake sale or rely on a generous neighbor should you ever happen to need any kind of health care, but hey, what are the chances of that, am I right?
Second, he says "Now that the safety net that benefitted my family has been clearly identified... In spite of the 345 words he used to explain his way around the situation, the fact still remains that the "safety net" he "identified" was clearly Medicaid.
Next he says "I trust that the debate can return to the important question of Medicaid expansion and its impact on the economic and personal freedom of Floridians." Again, 345 words later, the debate hasn't changed. He actually makes a good case for accepting Medicaid by showing that there are families and people out there struggling, as his family was, who are uninsured, as his family was, and who are faced with catastrophic illnesses, as his family was. He claims he "believes in the safety net." Yes, he believes in a "safety net" for his family, but not for yours. And by the way, who exactly is "debating the question of Medicaid expansion?" There was no debate. Weatherford announced there would be no Medicaid expansion before the Legislature was even in session.
What exactly is the impact of Medicaid expansion "on the economic and personal freedom of Floridians?" How exactly does a program that will benefit the sick, poor, and uninsured, which the federal government will cover 100% now and $.90 on the dollar later, interfere with a Floridian's economic and personal freedom? Freedom for the sick and uninsured to die that much quicker? Or are we concerned with Will Weatherford's political freedom and freedom for health insurance companies?
Which brings me to his next point. "There is no dispute that private insurance is better for the health, welfare, and true needs of Floridians." Oh, there are plenty of disputes on that subject, which is how we came to need the Affordable Care Act in the first place. If there were no disputes, it wouldn't have taken decades to get a health care law like the ACA. The health insurance companies weren't fighting against it tooth and nail out of the goodness of their hearts or to see who could be the king of quality health care. Those high costs and huge profits are one of the reasons we need Medicaid. What good is private health insurance to people with a low income who will never be able to afford it?
So not once, but twice in two days, Will Weatherford has made the case for why we need Medicaid in Florida.
And once again, he's telling Floridans that if he gets his way, they won't be benefitting from Medicaid as his parents did.
For no good reason whatsoever.