Governor Scott has nonetheless made the wrong choice: abetting a broke federal government in expanding a fraud-riddled, debt-fueled entitlement of questionable effectiveness. This decision is particularly painful given that Scott made his bones fighting Obamacare. Scott’s decision undercuts all those Republican governors who have opted not to bilk the taxpayers of other states. His claim that the expansion will be temporary, and rescinded if the feds renege on their funding promises, is hard to credit. Expanding Medicaid tends to be much easier than shrinking it, and even if the feds do not come through in full there will surely still be “free money” on the table in the future.
Luckily, whether and how money is allocated for any expansion is not up to the governor alone. Both chambers of the Florida legislature are controlled by Republicans, and state house speaker Will Weatherford in particular has expressed skepticism. Former governor Jeb Bush is reportedly opposed as well.
Governor Scott can still salvage his claim to oppose Obamacare. A good start would be joining Oklahoma’s suit against the IRS for rewriting Obamacare to reduce the ability of state governments to opt out of some of its other provisions. As written, Obamacare does not authorize the federal government to offer its full range of subsidies or impose its full range of taxes and penalties in states that refrain from setting up insurance exchanges. The IRS has decided to pretend that the law authorizes these subsidies and penalties everywhere. Florida has joined half the union in passing on such state-run exchanges. If the Oklahoma suit prevails, as it should, Floridians will be protected from much of Obamacare and the law will be much easier to dislodge.