Thursday, March 3, 2011

Should Significance Of Judge Vinson's Health Care Ruling Be Reduced Since Florida Is To Accept Federal Cash From Health Care Act?

Late January, Reagan-appointed Federal Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District of Florida, ruled in a 78-page opinion, that the administration's health care reform bill was unconstitutional and should be thrown out in its entirety.

“The act, like a defectively designed watch, needs to be redesigned and reconstructed by the watchmaker,” Judge Vinson wrote.

Then-Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum was behind the challenge to the reform law.

This is relevant because as you may or may not know, Florida Governor Rick Scott has made it part of his schtick to dis "Obamacare" every chance he gets, but as it turns out, Florida is willing to accept cash that was allocated through the same bill the governor and former attorney general so virulently hated and continue to hate.

Carol Gentry wrote the following for Health News Florida:
Gov. Rick Scott will allow a state agency to accept a $35.7-million federal health grant, even though the funds flow from a law that Scott hates and says is invalid.

The Agency for Health Care Administration won the “Money Follows the Person” grant from the Department of Health and Human Services on Feb. 22. Florida was one of 13 states that won the grants, which pay for services that enable people who are mentally or physically disabled to get out or stay out of nursing homes.

The money was allocated through the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – the same law that Florida is contesting in federal court. But the grant does nothing to carry out the Act itself, Scott spokeswoman Amy Graham explained in an e-mail.

“The state will not be drawing down any dollars that bring about the implementation of ObamaCare,” she said, using opponents’ slang term for the Act.
While Judge Vinson ruled the law unconstitutional, he has refused to halt health care reform, instead urging the federal government to seek an expedited appelate review of the case.

So let's get this straight - Florida sued the federal government over a law they deemed a violation of their constitutional rights, and according to a Florida federal judge, they were correct and the entire law is unconstitutional.  That same state - Florida - also sees no problem accepting cash from said unconstitutional law. 

Should the merit behind the lawsuit be challenged because the state has decided to receieve funds from the act it litigated against?

According to Scott's spokeswoman, there is no conflict because the money allocated to the state is not being used to implement other aspects of the act, but in my opinion, because the money is derived from the act, the governor and his administration are acting very hypocritically, essentially diminishing the weight of the ruling.  After all, as Gentry notes, Scott directed his administration to not engage in any activity that would implement the act, and part of the implementation of the act is a federal health grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, but it is apparent that Scott selectively views the act as being only the things he opposes, such as the individual mandate, so money to upgrade technology to process information related to the law is bad but money to help support the mentally or physically disabled is okay.

It is possible that the only reason why Scott is accepting these funds but not the others is not because he is against the health care law but because he does not want to be seen as someone denying federal money for the handicapped, because that would make him an easy political target, as if his other actions as governor weren't fodder enough.

I don't think there is anything left that can restore some of the political capital Scott gained from his purchase of the governorship...

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