Rick Scott Vetoes Unanimously Passed GOP Bill That Helps the Poor

* The following is an opinion column by R Muse *

It takes hardly any time at all to find examples of Republicans in positions of power who seem to relish seeing poor and low income Americans suffer, especially if that suffering includes lacking access to healthcare. If Republicans in Congress aren’t perpetually voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act to rob millions of healthcare, they are cutting Medicare or refusing to accept free Medicaid expansion in Republican-controlled states.

However, as unbelievable as it may seem, and it is unbelievable, one Republican state’s legislature voted unanimously to extend healthcare to help rural and poor Floridians. It was not good news for the poor though, because the most powerful Republican in the state vetoed a bill that passed both houses of the legislature unanimously; seemingly out of sheer spite and contempt for the vulnerable because it provided access to healthcare.

Governor Rick Scott must have it in for poor and low-income Floridians, particularly those in need of access to any kind of healthcare. In this latest Republican atrocity it was a one-man effort that went against the unanimous wishes of the Republican majority legislature. In the past, Scott had the backing and assistance from Republicans to close down women’s access to healthcare and reject Medicaid expansion, but this time he rejected the wishes of his fellow Republicans. One wonders if that woman who accosted him at a coffee shop a couple of weeks ago will be stalking him to unleash another “You’re an asshole” rant on the governor.

When the woman confronted Scott for refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to low-income residents, Scott said his excuse was that he did not want Florida to get involved in a federal program like Medicaid. And yet in his veto of HB 139, he claimed helping poor and rural Floridians was unnecessary and wasteful because they already have great dental care from Medicaid; except for the 800,000 or so Floridians who suffer the GOP Medicaid rejection complex.

The Republican-introduced bill simply created “a grants program aimed at dentists to serve patients in counties with a shortage of dentists or in otherwise medically underserved areas.” The grants, ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 were set to be administered by the Department of Health. Mr. Scott wrote in his veto letter that he thought  “maintaining good oral health is integral to the overall health of Florida families.” But he was not about to “support a program that does not safeguard taxpayer investments;” whatever that was supposed to mean.

A spokesman from the Florida Dental Association (FDA) said the group was “disappointed because the legislation would have provided significant support for promoting dental care, economic development and job growth in underserved areas of Florida.” The FDA’s Director of Governmental Affairs, Joe Anne Hart, continued that,

The challenges of accessing routine dental care have critically impacted the health and success of Florida communities, especially in rural areas. The results are repeated visits to the emergency room for preventable dental problems, missed days of school due to toothaches, and lower GPAs and graduation rates. We will continue to advocate for statewide policies and programs to improve oral health for all Floridians.”

It appeared that the FDA’s advocacy worked exceedingly well on both houses of Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature, but contemptible Rick Scott was unmoved.

Unlike when Scott and Republicans claimed they rejected Medicaid expansion and access to healthcare for 800,000 Floridians, it was alleged to be due to the exorbitant cost to the state. Scott never complained about the cost of HB 139; it made his veto all the more cruel and contemptible.

It is worth noting that Medicaid expansion is no cost to the state for the first two years and then it is only 10 percent of the total cost every year to cover an additional 800,000 Floridians. So expanding Medicaid, like shutting down women’s access to public healthcare, is not about money. Rick Scott just dislikes women as much as he hates Florida’s poor and low income residents having access to what is arguably “free” healthcare for at least two years, and now access to more dental providers in underserved rural areas.

If the woman who unleashed Hell on Scott at a Starbucks store last weeks would have known the full extent of Scott’s cruel contempt for the poor having access to healthcare, she would likely have called the governor a lot more than an “asshole.” She said,

You strip women of access to public health care. Shame on you, Rick Scott! We depend on those services. When poor people like us need health services, you cut them. You cut Medicaid. You’re an asshole. You don’t care about working people. You should be ashamed to show your face around here. Shame on you, Rick Scott! You’re an embarrassment to our state.”

Rick Scott is an embarrassment to America, and humanity for that matter. He certainly must have embarrassed the Republican-dominated legislature by rejecting what should have been a veto-proof bill. One hardly ever hears about any legislature unanimously passing anything, much less a Republican-majority legislature passing a bill to help the poor and underserved. That woman who railed on Governor Scott was only half right in labeling him an “asshole.” He is worse; he is a cruel barbaric Republican and this time his cruel contempt for the poor likely surprised even his own cruel Republican-dominated legislature.