U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Photo: Martha Jackovics)
For the second day in a row, Democrats in Florida are forcing the House to read bills in full in protest over Republicans inaction on Medicaid expansion, debating the expansion in between the readings, which Republicans in turn limited to three minutes.
Democrats argued that House Republicans are ignoring the will of Florida voters while sending their tax dollars elsewhere in rejecting expansion. House speaker Will Weatherford, whose own family benefited from Medicaid when his brother needed medical care, which he is denying to others, said the stall tactics were "dissappointing" and "unbecoming." Weatherford recently said that if Medicaid wasn't dealt with this year "that doesn't mean that the world comes to an end." Those being denied health care might disagree on that. Weatherford and the rest of the legislators pay only $8 a month for health care, while the GOP House version of Medicaid would have those with low incomes paying three times that amount through private insurance, rather than accepting federal dollars as the Senate plan would.
In other developments per the Medicaid dispute:
Democratic National Chairman and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz traveled to Tallahassee to praise Democrats for standing up for Medicaid expansion, and to criticize both Republican lawmakers and Rick Scott. She said that by claiming he wants the expansion but not pushing the GOP to act, Scott was having his cake and eating it too. As for the Republicans:
"It's important and the right thing to do," she said. Democrats' delay tactics are preventing Republicans from "just ramming through what their tea party extremist agenda thinks is important."
In retaliation against Democrats, the Republicans began killing Democratic bills, while still pushing through bills for special interest groups and lobbyists.
While claiming there isn't enough time to debate over Medicaid, and in doing so, sending Florida taxpayers money elsewhere, lawmakers still found time to meet privately overnight to give a special tax break to a California company that was recently hired by a Tallahassee lobbying firm. The tax break was personally requested by Will Weatherford. The tax break was never discussed publicly and would cost approximately $100,000 per year.
Also coming to light: The fact that by not expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, not-yet-naturalized immigrants may be able to get benefits that American citizens in their states can't get.