Americans For Prosperity, the Koch funded so-called "grassroots" Tea Party group may have lost Rick Scott on the Medicaid expansion issue last week, but they still had plenty of cards to play in the Florida legislature. By "cards," I of course mean members who have ties to ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, also funded in part by the Koch brothers. ALEC is the group that writes legislation that it passes on to lawmakers in cookie cutter form, which is basically copied, pasted, and passed into law in whatever state it goes to.
Yesterday, AFP got part of their wish when the Florida House Select Committee on PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), led by House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-ALEC), voted to reject the Medicaid expansion before today's legislative session began.
Of the reasons given for the rejection, some sounded extremely familiar in comparison to AFP's objections to Medicaid, as shown on their website. They even penned a press release commending Weatherford and the committee for seeing it their way. In that release, entitled "The Florida House Got It Right: Reject Medicaid Expansion, AFP wrote this:
Today, the Florida House of Representatives’ Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act voted to reject Medicaid expansion.
Americans for Prosperity’s Florida State Director Slade O’Brien commented:
“I applaud the Florida House’s decision to reject Medicaid expansion and urge the Florida Senate to follow their lead. The majority of House members agreed that expanding the costly and broken Medicaid system is not the correct way to provide quality healthcare for Floridians, and that the financial risks associated with expansion are far too great to force on the taxpayers.”]
[Mr. O’Brien continued, “Floridians demand opposition to the expansion of the broken Medicaid program and the Florida House of Representatives has agreed. Expanding this costly program would increase costs for everyone and force a million people into a failing system that provides subpar healthcare services. I can’t believe that the Florida Senate would be willing to expand Medicaid now despite the huge financial burden it will create for future generations of Floridians. This is not a decision that can be made in a vacuum — the future costs of expanding Medicaid today will have a devastating impact on the welfare of our state, our children and our grandchildren.”
Weatherford echoed that sentiment in his statement on the rejection, saying:
“I am proud of the thoughtful, thorough and deliberative approach that our Select Committee took on the important issues related to Medicaid expansion and health exchanges. I received their recommendations and agree that expanding Medicaid and setting up a state exchange is not in the best interest of our state. We simply cannot count on the federal government to pay 100 percent of the cost for expansion. The facts show that healthcare costs will go up for many Floridians, while access to and quality of healthcare will go down. The 'all or nothing' approach that the Obama administration is offering will not work for our state. I know there will be continued discussion about this matter, and I look forward to exploring better policies for our state.”
Weatherford cites that "the facts show" their reasons for the rejection are correct, but he doesn't say what those facts are, nor where he got them. When the actual legislation comes out, those "facts" will probably look very similar to the ones on this list from the AFP website: The Top Ten Reasons Florida Should Reject Medicaid Expansion. We've already heard several from the Capitol already when Rick Scott and others recited them. AFP also makes the claims that they speak for Floridians who feel the same way, and cite polls from like minded think tanks that show this. They also have ready made letters to send legislators and "facts" to convince followers that accepting Medicaid would be the ultimate power grab, disaster, and things of that nature, because that's what AFP does. You, "grassroots" and all.
Below is the Florida House Select Committee on PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) members who voted on the rejection. The members that we know of with ties to ALEC are in bold:
Corcoran, Richard [R] Chair
Hudson, Matt [R] Vice Chair
Schwartz, Elaine J. [D] Democratic Ranking Member
Cummings, W. Travis [R]
Dudley, Dwight Richard [D]
Harrell, Gayle B. [R]
Jones, Mia L. [D]
Magar, MaryLynn "ML" [R]
Nelson, Bryan [R]
Passidomo, Kathleen C. [R]
Pigman, Cary [R]
Roberson, Kenneth L. "Ken" [R]
Rodríguez, José Javier [D]
Stark, Richard [D]
Thurston, Jr., Perry E. [D]
Trujillo, Carlos [R]
Wood, John [R]
ALEC is well known for working to undercut health care reform as well as AFP, as seen in this report.
As fast as Republicans moved to vote against the expansion, you can almost bet the bills against it will be written up just as quickly, because after all, for those legislatures that work with ALEC, we know the legislators who push them have little to do with the paperwork beyond cutting and pasting the minor details. Sometimes, if they're lucky, they even remember to remove "American Legislative Exchange Council" before presenting them.