GUEST EDITORIAL: Poor health care access means citizens suffer
Florida’s stubborn refusal to take federal funds for health care while accepting it for nearly everything else is a continuing outrage.
The Sunshine State struggles to provide its low-income residents care for mental illness and substance abuse in large part because those illnesses are funded by Medicaid. Expanding Medicaid would provide coverage for about 445,000 Floridians, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Florida’s elected leaders, especially in the House, consider Medicaid something close to evil.
So far, 36 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid while 14 states, mostly in the South, have refused.
Meanwhile, other states with Republican leaders are expanding Medicaid to the benefit of their people. In some cases, the people had to vote to force the expansions as in Utah, Nebraska and Idaho.
Now a study shows that expanding Medicaid improves people’s health in Southern states. The study was published in Health Affairs and summarized in The Hill.
The study looked at Southern states, including those that have expanded Medicaid: Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas and Louisiana. Those that have not expanded it include Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
It showed that expanding Medicaid improved health and just as importantly prevented declines.
Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed a 6 percent decline in overdose deaths in states that have expanded Medicaid.
Meanwhile, a campaign to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot in 2022 is facing opposition from the Legislature. The Senate is challenging signatures being collected for a Constitutional Amendment.
Florida has more citizens enrolling in the Affordable Care Act than any other state.
A record 1.9 million Floridians signed up during the December enrollment period. That is 125,000 more than last year.
Texas, though it has more people, came in second with 1.1 million people enrolled.
That illustrates the clear need for health insurance in this state. Still, Florida has joined a lawsuit with other states that challenges the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
If the lawsuit passes, millions of Floridians would lose their health care coverage.
Do Florida’s elected leaders have plans for substitute coverage if that happens?
The biggest problem with the Affordable Care Act, as in all of the health system in America, is cost.
Americans pay more for health care than any other developed country by far.
Most Americans pay indirectly so they don’t see the full impact of the cost in most cases.
A new study from Princeton University shows that Americans are indirectly paying $8,000 per household more than those in other developed countries like Switzerland.
Meanwhile, life expectancy in the United States is declining in large part due to “diseases of despair” like suicides and opioid deaths.
The American health care system played a role in the opioid epidemic by failing to control the addictive nature of the drugs.
This guest editorial was originally published in The Jacksonville Times-Union, a sister newspaper within Gannett.