Florida Gov. Rick Scott May Ask Legislature To Accept Federal Health Reform Funds

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) has built up a reputation for refusing to accept almost all of the grants made available by the Affordable Care Act because he believes that the health care reform law to be unconstitutional. Recently, Scott accepted $2.5 million for abstinence programs and is now considering asking the Republican state legislature to approve additional funds to prevent child abuse:

Scott, 58, is deciding whether to ask the Republican- controlled Legislature to allow $2.1 million of U.S. grants to be spent on home care for the elderly and needy that it voted down in June, said Lane Wright, a spokesman in Tallahassee. He also may seek its approval to disburse $3.1 million of U.S. aid for child-abuse prevention lawmakers failed to allocate, Wright said.

Scott, a former hospital-chain executive, started Conservatives for Patients’ Rights in 2009 to object to President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which became law last year. As governor since January, he has had no objection to using U.S. funds for programs in place before they became part of the Affordable Care Act, said Wright.

He remains opposed to “implementing any part of Obama-care that didn’t already exist,” he said. The governor turned down three grants worth a combined $4.1 million to set up a health- insurance exchange, regulate increases in rates and help residents appeal denial of care, said Wright.

The money is sorely needed. In 2010, the state legislature cut a staggering 43 percent of the budget for its Healthy Families Florida program, which provides home visitation services to both expecting parents and parents with newborn children in order to prevent future instances of abuse. As a result, Healthy Families was forced to scale back, dropping services for 5,800 children in 3,500 high-risk families.

Florida has the country’s fourth-highest unemployment rate, second-highest rate of people without insurance, and a $3.7 billion budget gap this year.