Political Animal


January 08, 2013 4:03 PM Rick Scott’s Parallel Universe of Ideological “Facts”

By Ed Kilgore

Via Think Progress, another item from the ever-increasing database of “facts” Republicans use to buttress ideologically dictated positions comes from everybody’s favorite health care expert, Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott has been bruiting it about that his refusal to implement the Medicaid expansion provided for in the Affordable Care Act, which would have supplied health insurance to a cool million residents of that steamy state, was based on its vast cost: $26 billion over ten years in new state costs!

Them’s a lot of dollars, to be sure. But turns out Scott just kinda made the number up, or more accurately, didn’t bother to share the preposterous assumptions needed to generate it. Health News Florida explains:

The state’s chief economist has warned the staff of Gov. Rick Scott that his Medicaid cost estimates are wrong, but Scott keeps using them anyway, according to a series of e-mails obtained by Health News Florida.
Scott says he opposes expanding Florida Medicaid because it would cost too much: $63 billion over 10 years, he says, with the state paying $26 billion of that.
But those numbers are based on a flawed report, according to a legislative budget analyst and State Economist Amy Baker. A series of e-mails obtained by Health News Florida shows the analysts warned Scott’s office the numbers were wrong weeks ago, but he is still using them. He cited them in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed on Sunday and at at a Washington press conference on Monday.

The trumped-up number, it seems, comes from assuming the federal super-match for the expanded Medicaid coverage provided for in the ACA will never actually materialize. Why? Here’s the response from Scott’s “health policy coordinator,” Michael Anway:

Anway said he doesn’t believe the federal funds will come through. “The federal government has a $16 trillion national debt, must borrow 46 cents of every dollar it spends, and in 2011 had its credit rating downgraded for the first time in history,” he wrote in explanation.

So Scott is assuming the feds will renege on their statutory obligation to provide the Medicaid match. That’s a new one, and is particularly ironic since the only threat to the federal government defaulting on its spending obligations comes from Scott’s conservative buddies in Congress.

Truth is, the most authoritative estimate of state costs associated with the Medicaid expansion, from the Kaiser Family Foundation, put Florida’s costs at $1 billion over ten years, and that doesn’t even include potential savings from costs currently incurred by the state in uncompensated care for the uninsured.

So Scott’s costs estimates are off a mere 96%, at least. But what are facts when it comes to the ontological necessity of thwarting Obamacare and saving a million Floridians from the slavery of dependence on government?

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Peter C on January 08, 2013 4:27 PM:

    Who could possibly have expected Rick Scott to make up fraudulant numbers about Medicaid costs????

    /sarcasm off.

  • ComradeAnon on January 08, 2013 4:36 PM:

    Can't understand how someone who ran that health care company so well could turn out like this.

  • Bokonon on January 08, 2013 4:40 PM:

    Unless Scott's "health care coordinator" is telling us something about the GOP's long-term plans for Medicaid that the rest of us aren't factoring in.

    Something called "default"? Or "killing the federal program and devolving everything to the states"?

  • boatboy_srq on January 08, 2013 4:41 PM:

    @ComradeAnon: Captcha ate my longer version of your comment.

    Scott is looking daily less like Voldemort and more like Count Olaf (of Lemony Snicket fame) - out to swipe the kids' inheritance, and bemoaning his poverty all the while.

  • boatboy_srq on January 08, 2013 4:46 PM:

    @Bokonon: hmmm... a "block grant" that wound up "saving Florida's healthcare system from bankruptcy" (without actually paying for any care whatsoever) would sound appropriate in that formula - and given the players there, not exactly unfamiliar...

  • Peter C on January 08, 2013 5:06 PM:

    It's not that Rick Scott believes his assertion (and thus, is living in an alternate universe); it's just that he's LYING!

    Rick Scott no longer deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt. He's a liar who is lying again.

  • jpeckjr on January 09, 2013 10:08 AM:

    He wouldn't be so upset about the increased cost of healthcare if he was still in the private sector trying to figure out how to get his share.

  • anandine on January 10, 2013 8:51 AM:

    Ed, I think you mean the numbers are off by 2600% not 96%.