There are at least three things that you can count on today's Republicans for being consistent on: Pushing tax cuts for the wealthy, obstruction, and stunning hypocrisy. Some more recent examples, Paul Ryan relied on Social Security to get through college, and favors Medicare for his Mom, but he wants to take both away from others, and Marco Rubio, who has been hypocritical on both of those as well as immigration, just to name a few.
Well, now there's another Republican here in Florida we can add to that list.
Yesterday while making his case against Medicaid, he followed Rick Scott's lead by telling a story about his family's medical bill woes, but Scott used it as a reason for accepting Medicaid. Oddly enough, Weatherford used his family as an example while arguing that Florida should say "no" to Medicaid expansion:
In outlining his opposition to expanding Medicaid on Tuesday, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford told an emotional story about how his family relied on existing safety nets to provide health care for his 13-month-old brother.
"Peter lost his battle with cancer, and my father found himself with a mountain of medical bills that he could never afford to pay," Weatherford told lawmakers on the floor of the House of Representatives. "It was the safety net that picked my father up. It was the safety net that picked my family up."
Hearing this, one might assume that Weatherford would be for a policy that would allow those who can't afford insurance to have a similar "safety net" to fall back on. But no, not this Republican. Doubling down on that hypocrisy, Weatherford declined to say exactly who provided that "safety net" to pay for his brothers medical bills when his family couldn't. But luckily, when asked by the Tampa Bay Times, Weatherford's father filled in the blanks in his son's story:
It was Medicaid.
The federal-state health care program for the poor covered more than $100,000 in Peter's medical costs, Weatherford's father told the Times/Herald.
"There was no way I could pay that," said Bill Weatherford, 62, when reached by phone in Odessa.
The House speaker, asked later, said Medicaid did not help cover his brother's hospital bills and that he thinks his father was mistaken. He said he would look into the matter.
"I don't know the specifics of what happened," said Weatherford, who was 15 when his brother died in 1995. "I know my brother had cancer, I know we were uninsured, and I know they weren't able to pay their bills."
It seems perhaps Weatherford junior might have "looked into the matter" before he made his case on the floor, which would have involved thinking, but good that he didn't. It sheds much needed light on the entire case for Medicaid. What Weatherford is saying is that when his family couldn't afford to, someone else paid their medical expenses for them. I think in Republican-speak, that would make the Weatherford family what they refer to as "takers" or "moochers." After all, that's what the GOP calls people who seek to use Medicaid and similar programs. It's what the rest of us call human kindness.
Weatherford tried to get around the Medicaid specifics by saying they relied on charity, another familiar tactic among the GOP who said that the poor could simply rely on charity, and things like bake sales, for medical expenses during the health care reform debate. Aside from trying to calculate how many cupcakes it would take to collect $100,000, someone else had to pick up the tab when Weatherford's family couldn't.
That is exactly the point. The point that Weatherford misses.
"A government that grows too big, becomes too intrusive, and fosters too much dependency will threaten our liberty, our freedom and our prosperity," Weatherford said. "Members — I am opposed to Medicaid expansion because I believe it crosses the line of the proper role of government."
Yet it didn't "cross the line" when it came to his family.
Worse still, not accepting Medicaid would also hurt the same hospital that treated Weatherford's brother, All Children's Hospital. All Children's has helped countless families for years and years, and is one of the largest Medicaid providers in the state. It's difficult to live in Florida and not know of someone who has benefitted from the good care at All Children's, whether they could pay their own the bills or not. Weatherford has a funny way of paying back their kindness to his family.
Weatherford says no to Medicaid because "federal money isn't free."
"Florida is being tempted with empty promises to comply with policies we would never pay for if we knew the true cost. They're trying to buy off states one by one. I am not buying it. Florida should not buy it."
Weatherford doesn't "buy it" and therefore Florida isn't buying it? Florida certainly "bought it" for his family, but sorry folks with children who have an illness that could be terminal if you can't depend on Medicaid. Federal money isn't free unless it comes in the form of a tax cut for a millionaire. You lose. So says Will Weatherford.
I'm glad to learn that Weatherford's brother was able to receive treatment even when his family couldn't afford it, and it's sad and a tragedy that he didn't survive in spite of it. There are still many people out there who are willing to help out those less fortunate than they are. It's stunning to me that of all people, this man apparently isn't one of them.
Weatherford should head down to All Children's and say that to the faces of the families he's about to cut off, maybe give them a lecture on his definition of "empty promises."
But he won't. Because people like Weatherford are shameless hypocrites and cowards who really have no business making life and death decisions for the rest of us.
That's what Republicans used to call "death panels," remember?