Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, talks during the Republican presidential primary discussion on Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, which is co-hosted by Fox Business Network and Univision. A real turning point occurred at the Republican presidential debate on Wednesday night: Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, was finally questioned on why so many people in his state lack health insurance.
He didn’t have much of an answer, which is both rather shocking and not at all surprising in different ways. It’s unexpected considering how much coverage Florida’s health insurance has received in the state’s and national news. This comprises a number of items from HuffPost.
According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau figures, more than 11% of the state’s citizens lack health insurance. The only other states with larger percentages of uninsured people are Georgia, Texas, and Wyoming. And it’s not very mysterious why. The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which would have made it available to everyone living below or just above the poverty line, has been resisted by 10 states, including Florida (along with those other three).
Instead, Florida continues to adhere to stricter, older guidelines that largely apply to youngsters and expectant women. Adults with minor children are also eligible, but they must earn no more than 25% of the federal poverty level, which for a family of three is little over $6,000 annually.
Advocates have long pleaded with Florida’s Republican governor to reverse his opposition to Medicaid expansion, which stems from his dislike of the “welfare state” in general and Obamacare in particular. Like his predecessor and other state GOP officials, DeSantis has declined.
That sparked Fox News anchor Stuart Varney’s query on Wednesday night.
Varney remarked, “Gov. DeSantis, 26 million Americans lack health insurance.” “Your state is home to 2.5 million of them. That is worse than the average for the country. Can Americans have any faith in you on this?
DeSantis need to be well-versed in it, and not just because it came up during his gubernatorial campaigns. He had the opportunity to vote on the Affordable Care Act’s repeal in 2017 while serving in the U.S. House. He voted against an earlier version of the repeal because, like some other more conservative Republicans, he believed it didn’t go far enough in eliminating the rules of the legislation. He backed the repeal entirely.
But on the debate stage on Wednesday night, instead of outlining his stance on Medicaid expansion or health care policy, DeSantis launched into a rambling argument about how inflation was driving up the cost of groceries and gas before finally offering a canned line about attacking “Big Pharma, Big health Insurance, and Big Government” in order to have “more power for the people and the doctor-patient relationship.”
To his credit, Varney made one more effort, posing the question, “Why is your health insurance record in Florida worse than the national average?”
But DeSantis avoided mentioning Medicaid or health insurance once more, instead praising Florida as a “dynamic state.”
DeSantis replied, “You can succeed in the state, but we’re not going to have huge populations on government programmes without work requirements like California.” “We think you should work, so you need to.” The same is true of all welfare benefits.
At least that portion of the response provided a transparent window into DeSantis’ fundamental convictions, which he has previously outlined, notably in his books. Additionally, some important information was brushed over, such as the fact that 7 out of 10 non-elderly persons on Medicaid are part of a family that has at least one wage earner.
They are not without health insurance because they are unable to find employment. The reason is that the employment “do not have an offer of employer-sponsored coverage, or it is not affordable,” according to an explanation from the unbiased health research group KFF.
Of course, DeSantis is hardly the first Republican to have difficulty supporting a conservative view on health care. It has been a special issue particularly since 2017, when the GOP’s attempt to repeal Obamacare sparked a fierce response and helped Democrats regain control of the U.S. House.
Democratic health care measures like Medicaid expansion and others have shown to be quite popular, while Republican attacks on them have proven to be very unpopular. Therefore, even a more polished response would have left DeSantis defending policies that the general public doesn’t appear to appreciate. It is therefore a surprise why DeSantis and his staff hadn’t prepared a better answer to such a predictable question.