Rick Scott, the Grim Reaper of the health care industry, is unsurprisingly giddy at the prospect of Republicans finally killing off President Obama's health care law, and possibly thousands of Americans right along with it. In fact, he was so excited about it that he recently fled Florida once again to offer his assistance with ending it to the person Donald Trump passed him over for to run the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Republican Tom Price. After meeting with Price, Scott, who normally avoids press coverage, couldn't wait to share his glee, saying this about the end of health insurance as we know it for thousands:
"Day one would be nice for me."
Of course "day one would be nice" for him. He's not the one who will lose his health insurance, nor will he have to worry about paying more for it as long as he's a public servant and has those he presumes to govern for footing the bill for him. (Republicans in the Florida legislature voted to keep his and their own premiums low, but Floridans still have to pay for it, whether they themselves have insurance or not.)
Because for people like these Republicans in general, and Rick Scott in particular, it wasn't enough just to block 800,000 of the state's working poor from getting health care by their refusal to expand Medicaid. No sir. They hope to end coverage for thousands more while throwing the insurance industry into chaos in spite of this:
Florida has more people signed up for private insurance coverage under the ACA marketplace than any other state: at least 1.5 million. Since the marketplace opened in 2013, the percentage of Floridians from 18 to 64 without insurance has dropped from 21.5 percent to 13.2 percent, according to Enroll America, a coalition formed to promote the ACA.
And it's not just those without Medicaid, or those who will lose coverage and/or subsidies who will be hurt by repeal (and let's be clear, that's all the Republicans have plans for as of now: repeal. They don't have a replacement yet, and it's quite possible they never will.) It means rates could go up for everybody once again. Repeal of every part of the ACA absent a replacement means going back to the old ways when insurance companies can raise your premiums through the roof whenever they feel like it, when they can decide what they cover or not no matter what you paid for, when they can end your coverage for reasons of their own choosing. They can return to the days when anyone with a pre-existing condition was uninsurable, and when they alone can determine what a pre-existing condition was, say a hangnail, or simply being a woman. It would be a return to the days when everyone is just one health issue away from losing everything, not just possibly their lives.
There are real human costs to ending the ACA, and that human cost means quite a high body count in Florida if Scott's "Day one would be nice for me" hopes come true. Just look at the numbers in this state by state chart, depending on whichever scenario Republicans go with. Anywhere from 1,425,000 to 2,230,000 will lose their insurance, resulting in death sentences for thousands.
So of course Scott can live with that. The question for Floridians is, can you? If the answer is "no," you may want to take it up with your Congressmen before it's too late. Because Republicans are all over the airwaves and the editorial pages speaking for you, claiming the American people want to end the ACA in spite of record breaking sign-ups continuing as I write this.
If they don't speak for you, you had better speak up now while you still have the chance.