Why Your Bill Sucks: Rep. Matt Gaetz

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Your Bill: HB 39 & SB 208 Restricts Insurance Coverage for State Officers to those offered to Medicaid recipients.

Your Sponsors:

Representative Matt Gaetz

Senator Travis Hutson

Senator Jeff Brandes

Senator Don Gaetz

Your supporters: This bill exposes a well-known-but-little-talked-about secret of the panhandle.  Some of the most “anti-government tea party” conservative areas of this state are, from the top to the bottom, reliant on public assistance.  Smaller local governments rely on revenue sharing from their larger neighbors, while many of the rural pandhandle residents rely on Medicaid for their health services.

Gaetz most likely cooked up this bill when his constituents exploded like a Liberty County Meth lab after endlessly searching for a medical facility that actually takes Medicaid.  The service in rural areas is extremely limited. 

What’s new that sucks: The entire premise is possibly the most shameless political stunt I have seen surrounding elected official’s compensation since Claude Kirk called the legislature into special session to veto the previously agreed upon pay raise and tell legislators to their faces that the public thought they were a bunch of crooks.  Even former Majority Leader Adam Hasner’s sound-bites about “never accepting a pay increase” were amateur compared to the picture Representative Matt Gaetz is trying to paint of the humble elected official waiting in the welfare line just like the single mother scraping out a living.

This pathetic bill, that was only filed to generate press and put a talking point on Young Matty’s next mail piece, could even possibly cost the state money if it pulls thousands of healthy, premium paying members out of the state self-insurance pool.  It’s the legislative equivalent of driving 35 miles to the next county to fill up your tank because you think you can save 2 cents per gallon.

What has always sucked:  In 1969, Republicans pushed for the legislative salary because they believed that members of the Legislature should represent Floridians from all walks of life, and not just those who are rich enough to go without pay.  As it is, your average legislator is a millionaire. This bill will only extend that trend down the entire ballot.

Would young leaders like Representative Jennifer Sullivan, who is so broke that a watercolor painting worth $1,200 is 10% of her net worth, be able to serve if she had to pay thousands a year to get actually see a doctor?  Health insurance premiums would cost almost a third of a legislators take home pay.

What about hospital districts? Will staff violate the Gaetz law, or will they tell their bosses they can’t have certain tests because notoriously stingy Medicaid doesn’t cover it?

It’s easy to take these cheap shots when you’re worth almost $27 million, or if you can borrow $50,000 from somebody who is, but the debate was settled long ago in that the people of Florida want a citizen government of common people that make up all walks of life, not only those who are wealthy enough to afford living without pay.  

What might not suck: Former legislators like Kurt Kelly and Ellyn Bogdanoff, you didn’t think the Gaetz’s forgot about you? Gaetz looks out for número uno, so of course the soon-to-be-term-limited legislators made no changes to the “health insurance for life” offered to former members of the legislature under s. 110.123 (8)(b). 

Gaetz.tweetAlso, if this bill passes it could actually increase Medicaid spending as legislators raise the benefits in an effort to increase their own.

Hear it from Gaetz: At least Gaetz has the one part about being on Medicaid and public assistance figured out- begging your friends for help, and then asking to your parents to bail you out when they don’t respond.

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