Florida Republicans have complete control over the state’s government, and they can’t even get that right.
Florida’s Legislature collapsed into chaos Tuesday as the House unilaterally ended the annual session with more than three days left, leaving dozens of major bills dead and escalating tensions between the House and Senate over their health care stalemate.
The state Senate responded by remaining in session for two more hours and announcing plans to return Wednesday, an attempt to send the message that they are willing to work through the impasse that has bitterly divided Republicans, and frayed emotions.
“Nobody won today,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, after the Senate adjourned for the day. “Nobody won. Taxpayers lost. It’s an unfortunate turn of events.”
Well, hope nobody was expecting anything important out of these guys.
At the heart of the dispute is the question of whether to expand Medicaid to draw down federal money to provide health care for 850,000 uninsured residents who must otherwise rely on charity care. The federal government is phasing out a program to reimburse hospitals that provide care for low-income or indigent patients, known as the Low Income Pool, or LIP, as it shifts to new programs provided by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
As part of the budget negotiations, the Senate wants to expand Medicaid and impose new requirements on low-income residents as it phases out LIP funds. The House rejects that idea, arguing that Medicaid is a “broken” program and prefers instead to rely on the federal LIP funds — at least for another year.
The governor, who has sided with the House on the Medicaid debate and called individual senators to his office last week to threaten vetoes of their priorities if he didn’t get his tax cut bill, had little to say Tuesday.
“We understand why the House did what they did. We will see what the Senate does tomorrow,” Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.
To recap, Florida’s House literally quit their session because the Republicans running the state Senate couldn’t agree on precisely how miserable to make the lives of poor Floridians who need healthcare: either by the Senate plan “expanding” Medicaid and then making qualifying for it next to impossible, or stick with the House plan of using the Low Income Pool that’s phasing out and was only designed as a bandage on a sucking chest wound.
This is the major problem with finishing the state’s budget: how badly to screw over the poors.