Welcome to the Rick Scott political gymnastics show! Watch as the Governor of Florida rejects expanding medicaid to some of the poorest people in his state to appease the Tea Partiers who got him elected, and then, months later, decides that actually providing healthcare to those people on the federal government's dime is a good idea!
One of the largest parts of Obamacare is an expansion of medicaid to cover millions more people (including a million in Florida alone). The federal government initially covers the entire medicaid expansion, and then 10% of the burden is gradually shifted to individual states. All the individual state governors have to do is say, yes, we want this initially free, and eventually 90% free medicaid expansion.
In August, Florida Governor Rick Scott said no to that offer:
Then, this week, Scott had second thoughts, which may have included, "providing insurance to a million of my constiutents through the Medicaid expansion is a good idea" and "I am up for reelection in 2014."
Around 2:50 of this video, Scott explains that, actually, given the offer on the table, taking the Medicaid expansion makes way too much sense:
"Our options are either having Floridians pay to fund this program in other states while denying healthcare to our citizens, or using federal funding to help some of the poorest in our state, with the medicaid program, as we explore other healthcare reforms."
Scott then goes on to talk about his mom, and how healthcare for the poor is a good thing. What Scott doesn't mention is that "paying for this program in other states" is not really part of the calculation. That's simply how some of their federal tax dollars will be used whether he takes the medicaid expansion or not. It's the whole "denying healthcare to our citizens" thing that Scott initially rejected and is now accepting.
The political calculation is a dicey one for Scott. The Tea Party was strong enough to get him elected in 2010, but they may serve up a challenger in 2014 because of Scott's decision. Meanwhile, former Governor Charlie Crist is reascending in Florida politics and would make a formidable Democratic challenger. Can Rick Scott somehow fend off attacks from both sides, with his currently dismal popularity numbers? Stay tuned, this gymnastics show is just getting started.