We know that Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford's stubborn, hypocritical decision not to expand Medicaid in Florida (aided and abetted by Governor-for-the-Moment Rick "Robot" Scott) is costing the state $50 billion in federal aid over the next ten years -- and likely resulting in the deaths of an estimated six Floridians a day.
Now a new study from the White House Council of Economic Advisers points out that this GOP pigheadedness also means there are scads of jobs that might otherwise have been created, bloating our already overstuffed unemployment rolls. Thank you, oh principled advocates of small government!
The numbers on job creation are just one point among many in the new report, aptly titled "Missed Opportunities." (Others are benefits like "Improved access to care," "Greater financial security," "Better mental health" -- little things like that.) Nationally, the report puts the job creation figures at 379,000 over three years, 68,000 of them in Florida.
Those numbers are derived from several consequences of Medicaid expansion: (1) increased overall demand for medical goods and services, (2) lower out-of-pocket medical costs, so consumers can direct dollars to other goods and services, and (3) reductions in uncompensated care, so care providers (hospitals, state and local government) can direct their dollars to other goods and services.
The report is based on work done by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the nonprofit Urban Institute and draws on research from numerous medical, health-care, and economics journals. That the report comes courtesy of the Obama administration demands it be viewed skeptically, of course, and its text is replete with caveats about the limitations of research and prediction.
We're sure Fox News will be all over the shortcomings of the report. In the meantime, Florida Democrats are going to have a field day. State Rep. Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach, the incoming House minority leader, had this to say to New Times:
GOP leaders seem to not understand the concept of compassion and priming the economic pump. Of the people by the people for the people -- Rick Scott can't exactly say that.
UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, FL GOP leaders responded to the new report with a big, fat meh. Will Weatherford told the Tampa Bay Times he's "skeptical" of the report's job numbers. And according to University of South Florida public radio's Health News Florida, incoming state Senate President Andy Gardiner sees "little chance of the House changing its mind."
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers South Florida news and culture. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.
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