Nearly One Million Floridians Are Losing Healthcare Overnight, And No One Even Seems To Know
Things are not going well in Florida.
Don’t Say Gay laws abound and “book” is now a dirty word. The governor is a racist and a homophobe, and now this. Listen, this isn’t to say that there aren’t nice things in Florida. After all, there is nothing in the world more beautiful than a Florida sunset over the Gulf of Mexico, and Florida also gave us Maya Rudolph and Bob Ross. Listen, Florida ain’t all lows. It has some highs, sure! Who doesn’t love a good “Florida Man” headline? The problem is, the lows in Florida aren’t just “low,” they are abysmal. Cthonic. Stygian. An unfinished basement in the 9th Circle of Hell.
And this news is making the situation any better.
So What Exactly Is Happening?
Well, according to findings published in The Atlantic, the southern states of the U.S. already have some of the worst healthcare systems in the entire country. Nearly a quarter of West Virginians have lost six or more teeth, and other states that make up the American South aren’t faring much better. Insurance coverage is abysmal and health disparities between white people and POC are some of the worst in the nation. While not as bad as North Carolina or Alabama, Florida is still in the bottom quarter percentile of healthcare performance.
And it seems like Governor Ron DeSantis wants to keep it that way.
DeSantis is somewhat of a right-wing evil genius. OK, “genius” is definitely overselling his abilities but he is strategic. His policies are all over the news, but only the policies that he and his ilk want you to know about. His administration recently blocked a new AP African American History course from being taught in high schools across the state, claiming that the course “significantly lacks educational value”. In DeSantis’ own words, he wants “education, not indoctrination”. He also was critical of the Queer Theory section of the course as well. Considering his administration’s relentless attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, this is unsurprising.
The decision was despicable. Senseless. Abhorrent. It sparked outrage among Florida Democrats, and even the White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the decision “incomprehensible.” The DeSantis administration was quick to defend its own decision, beginning yet another of the countless battles being fought in the Great American Culture War.
And that’s exactly what DeSantis wanted.
The move is a classic “own the libs” DeSantis stunt. The governor’s fans are rejoicing, and his deriders continue to deride him. Both conservative and liberal media outlets are currently in a frenzy, and discussions of the decision are taking up prime-time news slots across the country. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Rick DeSantis, who is currently lagging behind Trump in polls for the presidential race he is all but sure to eventually join, is now being touted as a conservative cultural hero.
The New York Times saw through the ruse. According to their exhaustive report, this strategy to stoke the flames of cultural controversy is a calculated ploy to divert media attention away from the DeSantis administration’s real goal: to gut an already hamstring state healthcare system. And no one is talking about it. As New York Times journalist Jamelle Bouie wrote in a separate article, “DeSantis has made himself the hero of conservative elites and the bête noire of liberals and Democrats without so much as mentioning his radical and unpopular views on social insurance and the welfare state.” In short, he’s feeding his supporters worthless cultural war victories—which do real damage to actual humans in Florida and nationwide—while robbing them of quality of life.
The Miami Herald reported that thousands of Floridians are on the road to losing healthcare benefits that were granted to them during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the report, Florida was one of only 11 states to vote against expanding the Affordable Care Act. Who are the others? You guessed it. North Carolina, Alabama, and the majority of southern states. What does this mean? It means that tens of thousands of Floridian families are at risk of falling into the Medicaid access gap. This gap will occur in families who are above the income requirements to qualify for Medicaid but still below the federal poverty line. As such, they won’t eligible for Medicaid or for coverage within the Affordable Care Act marketplace. It’s baffling. And many of those people are currently the ones shouting from the rooftops of the internet that DeSantis is a hero to conservatives.
So How Bad Is It Exactly?
In Florida, almost 2 million people gained Medicaid coverage from March 2020 (when the pandemic began) to December 2022. That is an increase of a staggering 50%, according to enrollment data. From December onward, more than 5.6 million people in Florida were covered by Medicaid. Unfortunately for them, DeSantis decided against renewing Medicaid coverage, a decision that cost the state $3.5 billion. While attitudes regarding Medicaid expansion are varied within the Republican party, deep red states such as Utah and Idaho continue to trumpet the “benefits” of not renewing Medicaid coverage. Currently, Florida will offer no benefits to PARENTS who make more than $7,000 a year. Yes, A YEAR. And adults without children are not eligible for benefits no matter what they earn. To qualify for Medicaid in Florida, a person must be considered low-income and be either pregnant, have children under 18, have or live with a family member who has a disability, or be at least 65 according to Benefits.com. Basically, you AND your loved ones have to be sick in the gutter before the DeSantis administration will even pretend to give a shit.
As for DeSantis himself, he seems to be fresh out of shit to give. The governor is more concerned with maintaining his state’s reputation of being the place “where ‘woke’ goes to die” than trying to help his constituents who are actually dying. This is either because he truly believes that Floridians are better off fending for themselves than receiving help from the federal government, or he is simply enacting the policy to secure Republican votes in the primaries. Either way, he’s a scumbag And this particular scumbag appears to have a wellspring of ideas for how he can drive both his state and the country into the ground. All we can do is focus on casting a light on his most harmful ideas, not just the ones that he wants us to hear.
(Featured Image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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