Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) explained why he had turned away millions of dollars in federal grants from the Affordable Care Act, during an appearance on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this morning, arguing that the federal dollars were committing the state to implement an unconstitutional law and then spend its on dollars once the funding expired:
SCOTT: What we haven’t accepted are dollars from the federal government that implement the ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act…they gave us stimulus money and then they stopped and we have to keep those programs going…so what we have to do is, we have to look at those grants and ask, alright how long is the grant for, is it something that fits in with what we’re trying to do?
The partial list of the rejected grants can be found here, and it’s as troubling as Scott’s argument, which we can consider in turn. First, constitutionality of legislation is decided by the courts, not governors. As the leader of a state with the second highest uninsurance rate in the country and a $3.7 billion budget hole, Scott should be focused on ways to improve access to care and preserve critical health services within existing law. The money he’s turned down would have not only plugged some of the gaps in the state budget, but it would have also invested in Florida’s health care system, reduced the number of Floridians who lack coverage, eased the strain on state safety net providers who take care of the uninsured and lowered state spending on uncompensated care. Scott can consult with Mitt Romney on the advantages of financing that kind of reform with federal dollars and the two former businessmen can agree that the state — like any business — can invest money upfront to reap savings in the future.
Fortunately, recent reports have indicated Scott is moving in that direction and may ask the legislature to accept several million of dollars in grants that it has rejected. Asked about that possibility this morning, the governor demurred: