The attitude of some Tea Party members and fiscal conservatives was reflected in the headline of Adam Smith's Friday story in the Tampa Bay Times: "Rick Scott's new ideology? Getting re-elected, some say."
However, Joe Gruters, chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota, emphasized to his fellow Republicans that Scott's decision is actually politically popular. And oh yeah, the right thing to do:
The Medicaid expansion is not the worst part of the law. It was an existing program and the expansion is voluntary. Most states, Republican and Democrat, are going to accept the Medicaid expansion because it makes financial sense for the state.
While Obamacare overall remains unpopular — and Scott remains opposed to the law and its intrusive elements — the Medicaid expansion element of it is actually quite popular. It's very popular in Florida, depending on how the poll question is asked.
That last sentence refers to the loaded question posed in a poll about Medicaid expansion that was released yesterday by the right-leaning, Tallahassee-based James Madison Institute (JMI). The poll showed that more than 60 percent of Floridians oppose the expansion.
The question asked:
At 21 billion dollars, spending on Medicaid currently represents about 30 percent of Florida's budget. If Florida should implement the Medicaid expansion, Medicaid would become an even higher percentage of overall state spending. Does this fact make you more likely or less likely to support expanding the Medicaid eligibility requirements in Florida?
The JMI poll results drastically oppose those from a poll by Public Opinion Strategies, which boasts on its website that the New York Times called it "the leading Republican polling company." The poll showed more than 60 percent of Floridians support Medicaid expansion.
Gruters went on to write that politically, the move by Scott is a winner:
- billions of dollars flowing into the state;
- thousands of jobs created;
- people getting health care that may not have;
- hospitals getting reimbursements they were not, making them healthier;
- and an issue taken off the table that Democrats would surely have demagogued
The philosophical fissure that Republicans have about Medicaid expansion is certainly legitimate, as are the critical statements from Adam Putnam, Pam Bondi and Will Weatherford (among others). But as Gruters acknowledged, it is something that most Floridians want him to do.