Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

"Scott has his facts wrong"

"Florida Gov. Scott exaggerates cost of Medicaid expansion, projections show".  See also "Rick Scott overstates cost of health care overhaul" and "Scott has his facts wrong".

Florida would lose billions for health insurance to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Floridians

"Two studies from Washington healthcare researchers project that Gov. Rick Scott’s decision not to expand Medicaid as provided by the healthcare reform law could mean Florida losing billions of dollars in federal funding — money that could have been used to bring health insurance to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Floridians."
A 2010 state-by-state study by the Urban Institute and financed by the Kaiser Family Foundation projected that the Affordable Care Act would provide $20 billion in federal funds to Florida between 2014 and 2019 to expand Medicaid coverage to 951,622 new enrollees, including 683,477 that had been previously uninsured.

Over those same five years, Florida would need to come up with $1.2 billion to fund the expanded coverage, according to the 2010 study.

An updated analysis from the Urban Institute last week made no funding estimates but, using different assumptions, estimated that as many as 1.8 million uninsured Floridians — 45 percent of the state’s uninsured total of 3.94 million — could have been moved to Medicaid under healthcare reform.

The new analysis was based on Census data of uninsured people below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, the cut-off point for Medicaid coverage under the reform act.

On Friday night, the governor estimated on Fox News that expanding Medicaid will cost the state about $1.9 billion a year, Associated Press reported, but Scott didn’t say how he had arrived at that figure.
"Florida could lose billions of dollars by rejecting healthcare reform act, study says".  Related: "Gov. Rick Scott: Florida won't comply with health care law". 

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Scott, Bondi must face reality of Affordable Care Act".  See also and "Rick Scott: Obamacare Fight Is Just Beginning".

Related: "PolitiFact Florida: Fact-checking Gov. Rick Scott on the health care law" Scott's statements rated "False" or "worse" than "False")

Scott to resume voter purge

"The next step in Florida’s struggle with the federal government over how to find non-U.S. citizens among the list of registered voters will come out later this week.  And that could mean the effort to check for noncitizens is restarted.  But don’t expect county elections officials to immediately go along -- at least, not until the state can do a better job of backing up claims that an individual shouldn’t be registered as a voter."  "Florida May Restart Search for Noncitizen Voters".

Docs vs. Glocks

"U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke, who had already issued a preliminary injunction last September, made her decision permanent late Friday when she ruled in favor of groups of physicians who asserted the state violated their free speech rights. She said the law was so 'vague' that it violated the First Amendment rights of doctors, noting the legislation’s privacy provisions 'fail to provide any standards for practitioners to follow.'"
The physicians’ lawsuit, an ideological battle between advocates of free speech and the right to bear arms, has been dubbed “Docs vs. Glocks.” The state Department of Health could appeal her summary judgment, which addressed legislation signed into law last year by Gov. Rick Scott.

In her 25-page ruling, Cooke clearly sided with the physicians, saying evidence showed that physicians began “self-censoring” because of the “chilling” effect of the legislation.

“What is curious about this law — and what makes it different from so many other laws involving practitioners’ speech — is that it aims to restrict a practitioner’s ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient, whether relevant or not at the time of the consult with the patient,” Cooke wrote, citing the benefit of such “preventive medicine.”

“The state asserts that it has an interest in protecting the exercise of the fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” Cooke wrote in another section about the Second Amendment issue. “I do not disagree that the government has such an interest in protecting its citizens’ fundamental rights. The Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, however, simply does not interfere with the right to keep and bear arms.”
Rick Scott and Pam Bondi can't win for losing:
The state’s latest legal loss follows a series of other recent setbacks in the courts, including healthcare reform, privatization of prisons, drug testing of welfare recipients, drug testing of state workers, and the shifting of pension costs onto state workers.
"Miami federal judge sides with ‘Docs’ over ‘Glocks’ in Fla. gun rights case".  See also "Judge tosses law banning doctors from asking about guns".  Related: "State’s loser lawsuits waste taxpayer money".

"Closer to zero"

"When former State Sen. Mike Bennett estimated his net wealth for the Florida Commission on Ethics in 2011, he omitted reference to one of his loans — a $744,000 mortgage on his house at 7056 Hawks Harbor Circle in South Manatee."  "Former Sen. Bennett's net wealth may be closer to zero".

Rubio luv

"Marco Rubio 'fans' line up for Orlando book signing".

I-4 war

"Voters along Interstate 4, which stretches from Tampa Bay to Daytona Beach, will determine the outcome if the race remains close into the fall, as expected. About 45 percent of the state's voters live in that 17-county area."  "In Florida fight, Obama and Romney scrap along I-4".

"Orlando has 2nd highest Hispanic jobless rate"

"Orlando has 2nd highest Hispanic jobless rate, study finds".

Administrative Challenge to Voting Rules

"Sen. Arthenia Joyner and a pair of voting-rights organizations have filed an administrative challenge to the state's decision to push ahead with a new elections law in 62 of Florida's 67 counties."
The filing, which the groups announced Monday, is the latest chapter in an ongoing legal saga over who will be allowed to vote in the state's elections and what the rules will be for casting ballots.

Florida's electoral votes could decide whether President Barack Obama is re-elected in November, while a number of competitive congressional races are unfolding and all 160 seats in the Legislature are up for election.

The newest challenge specifically addresses the state's decision to allow the portions of the new elections law, passed in 2011, to take effect in all but five counties covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Any changes to voting procedures in those counties have to be approved by the Department of Justice or a three-judge federal panel because of a history of racial or language discrimination.

Exempting five counties from some of the law's most controversial provisions -- including a reduction in early-voting days and limits on when voters can change their addresses at the polling place -- creates a two-tiered system and violates state law requiring elections rules to be uniform across the state, the challenge says.
"Administrative Challenge to Voting Rules Filed".  See also "Joyner joins ACLU in challenge to Florida election law".

"A knife from the kitchenware department"

Daniel Ruth writes that, "just be sure I understand the clipboard of apparatchiks running Walmart:"
If a customer were to punch an employee in the mouth just for the fun of it, the bleeding hourly-wage minion would be expected to respond by saying: "Thanks so much for patronizing our lovely store and that, by the way, was a rather well-delivered right cross. I enjoyed it immensely. Have a nice day and could you also please deck me again?"

Apparently so.

Memo to former Walmart worker 73-year-old Jan Sullivan: It's your own fault you are out of a job for not more thoroughly reading the company employee handbook, which says you are obligated to accept with a smile being treated by customers as boorishly as the human resources department is indifferent to you.

As the Tampa Bay Times' John Woodrow Cox explained the other day, Sullivan was given the bum's rush out the door by Walmart after 22 1/2 years of loyal service simply because she was on the wrong end of a confrontation with a hideous customer last Black Friday. ...

But after Sullivan, as she was instructed, confronted a 40ish woman in jeans and a baggy sweater trying to leave the store through the wrong door, the dreadful customer shoved her. As Sullivan fell, she instinctively reached out and briefly clutched the woman's sweater. After she let go, the woman disappeared into the night. And so did Sullivan's job.

Even though Sullivan was the victim of a battery, even though Sullivan was the aggrieved party in the confrontation — even though Sullivan was simply doing the job she was assigned to do — Walmart fired her.

Her crime? According the company's factotums of forms in triplicate, under no circumstance is an employee permitted to touch a customer, which, it seems, extends to A) trying to defend oneself and/or B) attempting to keep one's balance after being shoved by a loutish patron.

You can't say Walmart didn't have Sullivan's back — with a knife from the kitchenware department.
"Perhaps Walmart's clipboard of bureaucrats feared if they didn't banish Sullivan, the cheesy customer might attempt to sue the company. Far better to toss an elderly diabetic woman to the curb. Who is going to care? Who is going to notice? No need for any compassion, or fairness, or common sense. Nothing to see here, move along."
If only Sullivan simply had been more ambitious. Had she been higher up the Walmart corporate food chain, it seems there is no price to pay for allegedly spreading around millions of dollars in bribes to Mexican government officials to cut through red tape to build more stores in possible violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Indeed, once company investigators unearthed the Mexican bribery operation, Walmart's higher-ups shut down an internal investigation of the corruption. Nor did Walmart see any reason to bother to alert either U.S. or Mexican law enforcement agencies of all the palm-greasing. And Walmart's top executive in Mexico who oversaw the bribery? He won a promotion.
"Boors at Walmart’s doors and at the top".