By Ralph De La Cruz
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
With Republican supermajorities in the Florida legislature and a tea party Republican in the Governor’s Mansion, you knew there would be some movement to the right in Tallahassee.
But this fast? This far?
Less than a month after mid-term elections, Florida Republicans are driving state policy like Ben-Hur driving a chariot: hard, fast, and with little regard for what they’re running over.
Less than a month. And the gauntlet has clearly been thrown down:
- State officials speaking out against the federal government’s decision not to allow oil drilling near the Florida Gulf Coast.
Slow down and re-read that sentence. Florida politicians — keep-your-federal-mitts-off-anything-of-mine politicians, no less — are upset because the federal government is not exploiting Florida waters.
- Republicans in Washington blocking the extension of unemployment benefits to 41,000 Floridians just before the Christmas holidays. Ho, ho, ho.
- And state leaders are, beyond trying, actually blocking implementation of national health care reform in Florida by brow-beating state agencies into not preparing for the upcoming changes. Not collecting data. In fact, not even planning on how to collect data.
Almost 4 million uninsured Floridians who will be directly affected by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. And our leadership doesn’t even want state agencies to consider any change might be coming.
The results have been immediate and will stretch into the future. The Office of Insurance Regulation, which has been charged with gathering data and overseeing implementation of aspects of the program, has slowed down its implementation after the Republican leadership demanded non-cooperation.
“And recently,” read one of the most chilling lines in the Orlando Sentinel story, “OIR decided to slow one of the new law’s reforms — by not imposing new profit limits on health insurers beginning Jan. 1.”
By not imposing new profit limits on health insurers.
Your tax dollars at work.