The Sarasota Herald-Tribune editorial board is all in support of Governor Rick Scott’s decision to expand Medicaid in Florida. In an opinion column titled “Medicaid numbers add up: Legislature should join Scott in recognizing the benefits of expansion” the editorial board states, “Federal aid hard to pass up.”
That statement sums up the issue. The question is does Florida want more citizens on federal aid? What benefit is that to Florida taxpayers?
The opinion column states, “The Legislature — which convenes its annual session March 5 — will ultimately decide whether to expand eligibility for the program to cover all Floridians under age 65 who earn up to 138 percent of the poverty rate. That’s $29,700 for a family of four; currently, coverage in Florida is limited to 100 percent of the poverty level, a shockingly low income of $22,350 for a family of four.”
What the Sarasota Herald-Tribune fails to say is why salaries in Florida are so low. The reason is because Florida jobs are low paying.
According to the South Florida Business Journal, “The average annual salary for Floridians ranks No. 32 nationwide, according to a new On Numbers analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Floridians have an average annual salary of $40,750, or an hourly wage of $19.59, as of May 2011. A rather low ranking considering the Sunshine State ranks fourth for the highest number of employees at about 7.2 million.”
The Sunshine Review reports, “According to 2008 Census data, the state of Florida and local governments in the state employed a total of 1,049,028 people. Of those employees, 832,252 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $3,302,955,436 per month and 216,776 were part-time employees paid $213,151,877 per month. More than 51% of those employees, or 539,321 employees, were in education or higher education.”
The average annual net pay of government employees in Florida is just over $47,624.
Working for government, at the expense of Florida taxpayers, and expanding Medicaid benefits, thereby expanding number of government employees, is considered by many a mistake.
Among those coming out in opposition include Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. According to BizPac Review, “Bondi said she ‘firmly disagrees’ with Scott’s decision to expand Medicaid coverage under the Obamacare legislation, but the final outcome will go before the Florida Legislature and she feels they will make the right call. “This could really devastate our state,” said Bondi. “And cost a tremendous amount of money.”
The numbers do not add up. As the Sarasota Herald-Tribune notes, “During the first three years of the expansion, the federal government would pay 100 percent of the state’s cost of broadening coverage.”
According to the federal Affordable Care Act, the federal contribution would be about 90 percent after those three years. The Agency for Health Care Administration found that Florida would save $3.9 million in the next fiscal year by rejecting Medicaid expansion — but it would pass up $2.1 billion in federal funding. While the state’s share would increase over time, by the 2020-2021 budget year Florida’s cost would be $487 million, compared with a federal contribution of $4.2 billion.”
So, Florida loses money as time drags on, assuming of course that Congress keeps its word and funds Medicaid according to the law.