Goodman: 1.5M Floridians could lose coverage, but Obamacare foes forge on

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks to reporters as he walks toward the Senate floor on Capitol Hill, July 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The healthcare replacement bill that Senate Republicans are intent on pushing toward a vote this week, despite being declared dead a few days ago for lack of support within their own party, would mean the loss of health coverage for almost 1.5 million Floridians.

And if the GOP succeeds in repealing Obamacare without enacting a replacement, that number of newly uninsured Floridians would rise to about 2.3 million. So say estimates from the Urban Institute.

Those figures match up with Congressional Budget Office analyses showing that, nationwide, the Senate bill would strip coverage for 22 million Americans by 2026; 32 million, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed with no replacement.

No wonder the Republicans’ bumbling efforts to fulfill their most fervid promise of the Obama years are going so badly. The Senate replacement bill is so unpopular that only 12 percent of voters in key Trump counties think it’s a good idea, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows.

Yet Gov. Rick Scott still sees political gold in attacking Obamacare tooth and claw. The Senate 2018 hopeful said in  Boca Raton this week, “I think you’ve got to understand Obamacare’s been a disaster. It’s caused health care prices to skyrocket.”

As if the problem of soaring healthcare costs didn’t exist before the ACA went into effect five years ago.

And Florida’s Republican U.S. senator, Marco Rubio, was ready last week to vote to repeal Obamacare without replacement, saying the health care law “has been bad for our country” — until that notion collapsed for lack of votes within a single day.

Rubio has hardly bathed himself in courage in this debate. Claiming to be undecided for weeks, he has refused to hold face-to-face town halls because, he said, activists will “heckle and scream at me.” And it appears he won’t meet with constituents who want to see the present law improved instead of voted or sabotaged into extinction.

Florida Voices for Health, a coalition of about 25 advocacy groups for expanded access to healthcare, has repeatedly sought to meet with Rubio, spokeswoman Louisa McQueeney told the Palm Beach Post Editorial Board. They’ve visited all his offices around the state. “The staff is very, very nice,” McQueeney said. “They take our materials. And then it just goes into a black hole.”

So Voices for Health proposed a “tele press conference call” and offered to give him written questions in advance. No response.

They sent Rubio a letter on July 10, asking that he commit to making sure that no Floridians lose coverage, that there are no cuts or caps to Medicaid and that no one is denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. They say he hasn’t answered.

The foes of the Affordable Care Act have done all they could over the past five years to badmouth the law. Scott, like other hardline Republican governors, refused to take advantage of the chance to expand Medicaid. Nevertheless, almost 1.5 million Floridians bought policies on Obamacare’s healthcare.gov marketplace — many of whom were going without insurance before.

Even if the Senate bills fail again this week, President Trump could fulfill his predictions of Obamacare’s death spiral by withholding the money to subsidize insurance companies to help sign up low-income customers. Just the uncertainty of future funding has caused some carriers to drop out of marketplaces.

And depending on what the Senate comes up with, Medicaid could be in for diminishment, either through cuts or caps or a restructuring to block grants. That’s a cloud over 4 million Floridians, including one half of the state’s children and 60 percent of seniors in nursing homes.

It’s bizarre that America is in this position. According to a Fox News poll last week — yes, Fox News — 60 percent of Americans want to keep Obama and for lawmakers to fix it. Seventy-four percent want Republicans to reach out to Democrats and find a compromise. That includes 59 percent of Republicans.

Yes, you read that right.

The public wants common-sense solutions, but the political system — wrapped up in tribal wars, ties to campaign contributors, the burning desire to score political wins … you name it — looks incapable of providing them. The very real danger is that millions of people will get hurt in the wreckage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christie: Trump a role model for kids whether he (or we) likes it or not

Friday’s Post Editorial CARTOON VIEW by award-winning cartoonist Lee Judge criticizing President Donald Trump for not being a good role model.

I love our readers. A phone call from one this morning critical of our choice of today’s editorial cartoon (above) touched an ongoing public debate about President Donald J. Trump.

“What is this supposed to be about?” the caller asked.

You see, among all the criticisms from the left (and right) about President Trump, an underlying theme appears to be either his fitness for the office or being a “role model” for our kids.

By the way, which side do you fall on this?…

 

The deluge of commentary from liberals is, of course, no surprise. But a steady stream of criticism from (establishment) conservatives can also be counted on.

Even the large stable of syndicated editorial cartoonists (about two dozen) that The Palm Beach Post subscribes to are not immune from this debate. Their takes often make for biting, some might say harsh, criticism of how President Trump’s actions and words raise questions about whether we should be shielding our children’s eyes and ears from his latest Twitter rant.

The cartoons, as is their wont, can evoke some pretty emotional and negative criticisms of their own from some readers as to their fairness, or bias for or against the president.

Then again, the cartoons are the opinions of the cartoonists, so by that very definition they are biased. The real question is whether or not they’re unfair. Let’s leave that one for another day.

Anyway, today’s cartoon by award-winning cartoonist Lee Judge, of the King Features Syndicate, sparked a bit of emotion (via phone calls) from a couple of readers.

The cartoon (above) depicts a little boy pulling a little girl’s hair in a sandbox, as one of the parents says: “Look at that… He’s acting presidential.”

The cartoon is obviously a shot at President Trump. It was sent in the wake of his Twitter war with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Recall that what stood out most from that highly publicized back-and-forth was the president’s comments about Brzezinski.

Well, there you go.

You know, the president could just go the route of NBA legend Charles Barkley and just declare that he’s not a role model.

 

 

Or maybe we should just take Barkley’s advice.

Sniper fire in Dallas leaves 5 police officers dead, darkens our democracy

 

 

A police officer looks up while standing behind a vehicle, as police responded to shots being fired during a protest over recent fatal shootings by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Dallas. Snipers opened fire on police officers during protests; several officers were killed, police said. (Maria R. Olivas/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
A police officer looks up while standing behind a vehicle, as police responded to shots being fired during a protest over recent fatal shootings by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Dallas. (Maria R. Olivas/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

At the very least, the terrible events of the last few days tell us that there is way too much violence in America.

On this grim morning, we are reeling at the deaths of five Dallas police officers and the wounding of seven more, targeted simply for doing their jobs: protecting the peace. In this case, protecting the protest of some 800 people gathered in fury and grief over the killing of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota at the hands of police, a scenario that seems never to end and that tells us that something is deeply wrong in our country.

It was a peaceful protest. Just like the protests that arose yesterday in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Chicago, New York and a hundred other places. It was peaceful until an unknown number of snipers with rapid-fire rifles, all too easily obtained in this land of the free, opened fire.

Those snipers — one of whom was killed by police, but not before saying that he was “upset over Black Lives Matter,” “upset about the recent police shootings” and that he “wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,” according to the Dallas police chief — attacked not just a police department that was taking strides to improve its relations with its community, they attacked our democracy.

They completely undermined and destroyed the message of those protesters. They injured two of them, reports indicate.

They attacked all of us who hoped that the nation could work toward improving the fraught relations between our police forces and black America in a thoughtful way. Now any dialogue becomes infinitely harder. So does any soul-searching.

President Obama, whose ascension to office was widely misunderstood to mean that we had arrived at a so-called end to racial issues in America, rightly called the Dallas ambush a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.” And though the reasons for these police murders can be understood, there can be “no possible justification” for them.

An eye for an eye, as a wise man said, leaves everyone blind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter: Anyone surprised by Bondi and Trump revelations?

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

Was anyone surprised to read about the quid pro quo arrangement between Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Trump University?

Apparently, Bondi solicited a substantial campaign contribution from the Donald J. Trump Foundation and subsequently her pending participation in a consortium of other state’s AGs complaints against Trump University never materialized. Go figure.

I truly believe that if Gov. Rick Scott found out about this, he very well might have given her a raise. I love Florida. Don’t you?

BILL MOSSO, PALM BEACH GARDENS

Letter: Conservative columnist lineup has strong left tilt

columnistIt seems there is some confusion when The Post tries to present opposing views between right and left. The left point of view is articulated very well, by strong proponents of the liberal view. However, when it comes to the conservative point of view, not so much so: Michael Gerson, Kathleen Parker and David Brooks.

In the May 27 issue, “Clinton may be disliked because she is hard to know,” Brooks goes on to tell us how wonderful Hillary Clinton is; we just don’t understand her. He cannot understand why her unfavorable rating is so high.

After all, she was a wonderful secretary of state. I did not see anything about her dishonesty factor, her emails, the Benghazi allegations — or the drama that has followed the Clintons their whole political life.

Brooks should not represent people on the right. I am sure there are other writers on the right who can articulate the conservative view better.

DAVID NOVEMBER, BOYNTON BEACH

Letter: Get some perspective on real dog lovers

 

dogHere’s a reply to “Dogs are nuisance in many public spaces,” May 29: Sure they are, but with all the animal mistreatment and abuse, maybe we can understand a little of the problem.

Some people have only a dog or cat as their companion, and they really love these animals. Instead of writing a letter, may I suggest you read “So God Made a Dog.” It’s not really religious, just explains how we dog lovers feel. It might make you smile.

I do agree that you also have rights as a non-pet owner, and those rights should be respected by pet owners. People should control their animals and pick up after them, and not bring them into places where they don’t belong.

PATRICIA GUSTAINUS, BOCA RATON

>>READ MORE: Readers React: Do dogs have a place in our restaurants and stores?

Letter: Jack Nicklaus’ support for Donald Trump is a shock

 

Jack Nicklaus PGA National Bear
With hole number 14 to his back, Jack Nicklaus at PGA National. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

It’s probably the year’s ultimate irony that the PGA Tour has moved the World Golf Championships to Mexico from Donald Trump’s course in Doral — given Trump’s remarks about Mexican citizens when he announced his run for the presidency (“PGA Tour says goodbye to Doral,” Thursday).

Various reports have stated that organizers have not been able to find a title sponsor for the event, which is not surprising. It would be difficult to imagine a major sponsor supporting an event that would tie itself to the Trump name and image.

What did surprise me, however, was the mention in The Post that Jack Nicklaus supported and would vote for Trump. Support for Trump from a worldwide, iconic figure like Nicklaus sends a signal that he (Nicklaus) stands behind a man who has demonstrated with his comments, numerous times, that he is a racist and a hater of women.

MICHAEL BAZ, TEQUESTA

Pro-Con: Should the Cincinnati Zoo have killed Harambe the gorilla?

Via Cincinnati Zoo
Harambe (via Cincinnati Zoo)

PRO: Howard Goodman, Editorial Writer

No one could have wanted to keep that Silverback gorilla alive more than the zookeepers. No one could have known the gorilla better. No one would have had a better ability to communicate with him.

If the people closest to Harambe judged that he had to be shot because the little boy’s life was in danger, then you have to think that their reasons were extremely compelling.

Yes, we have seen gorillas acting kindly and protective to human children in other zoos at other times. And maybe Harambe, too, intended nothing but loving kindness toward that 4-year-old.

But a 450-pound gorilla is many times stronger than a human, and when you see the video of him dragging the tiny boy through the water, the speed and violence of it is shocking. It looks like the kid can be snapped in two in an instant. You hear onlookers say: “Oh, my god!”

 

As the zoo’s director, Thane Maynard, said Monday: “It was a life-threatening situation and the silverback gorilla is a very dangerous animal.”

“We stand by our decision and we’d make the same call today.”

It is a terrible thing that a beautiful animal is dead. But animal rights activists are off base in criticizing the zoo for their handling of this wrenching situation. When a human life is in danger, it is the human life that must be saved.

 

Via Cincinnati Zoo
Harambe (via Cincinnati Zoo)

CON: Kristyn Wellesley, Digital Editor

CNN’s Laura Coates doesn’t understand Cincinnati’s reaction to Harambe’s death on Saturday. I will try to explain it.

Cincinnatians — and being born and raised there, I am proudly in that group — have a storied history with our gorillas, and it’s important to understand that to really understand the reaction to Harambe’s death.

It began with Penelope, a western lowland gorilla like Harambe, who came to the Cincinnati Zoo in 1957. Born in Africa, Penelope was a gift to a group of Cincinnatians who had travelled to Africa to give famed humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer a herd of Nubian goats so he could help his patients who were dying of calcium deficiency. Schweitzer had adopted the then-3-year-old Penelope when she was orphaned and gave her to the group in gratitude for their help.

In Cincinnati, Penelope was introduced to King Tut, a 475-pound silverback gorilla who had also been born in Africa and was enamored with her, faithful to her his entire life. The pair had four children together and that family became the foundation for opening the $4 million Gorilla World at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1978, so our families could share with their family.

When King Tut died in 1987 from complications with dental surgery, the entire community mourned and were outraged when his body was sent to a Los Angeles museum for display. Instead, there is a bronze plaque in memory of this gorilla patriarch in Gorilla World. Penelope passed two years later in 1989. Their daughter Samantha is 46 and still lives in Gorilla World.

Cincinnatians hold a very special place in their hearts for these gorillas.

So for Zoo officials to have to kill one is especially devastating to the community.

Thane Maynard, the Zoo’s Director, said tranquilizing Harambe, as the Palm Beach Zoo did recently when one of their male Malayan tigers attacked zookeeper Stacey Konwiser, would have taken too long. But were there no other alternatives?

The Cincinnati Zoo is known for its enrichment programs with the gorillas. There is a relationship between the gorillas and their trainers, and these are very intelligent creatures. Was Harambe given the opportunity to turn the child over to rescuers before he was killed? Did the rescuers make the call too quickly?

Looking at the video, Harambe seemed afraid of the screaming crowd — who were understandably screaming — and dragged the child away from the noise. When the other two gorillas followed the trainer’s command to return to the habitat, Harambe went into the moat to get the child. Was he protecting it? Did he see it as a threat? We can never know those answers.

This is a child whose life could have been in danger, there is no question. How the child was able to access the enclosure or why he wasn’t being supervised closer by his parents are questions that need to be answered, but even those aren’t necessarily points of blame. No zoo can prevent every scenario that might occur. Every parent has turned away distracted for that split second.

But should Harambe have had to die for others’ mistakes? No.

It isn’t that Cincinnatians, or even the animal rights’ groups who are protesting, aren’t as concerned with human life as an animal’s life, as Coates’ suggests — far from it. It’s that we feel deeply for these animals and want to know that there really was no other alternative that could have preserved and protected both lives.

Zoos need to find ways to change their protocols to better protect their animals so no other animal falls victim to the same fate as Harambe.

Readers React: Do dogs have a place in our restaurants and stores?

dogs-1160399_960_720Over the holiday weekend, I strolled into a moderate to high-end women’s clothing store wondering if there were any Memorial Day deals to be had in this store I could normally never afford. Browsing through the racks, there was a woman ahead of me pushing a large covered baby carriage decorated with pink flowers, with cubby space to hold her Starbucks coffee (who drinks coffee when it was that hot outside?!) and under storage for her purse and bags filled with shopping treasures.

The baby was whimpering a little. Was it about to cry, let out a shrill scream that would cause other shoppers to recoil just a little? Maybe it was playing with a toy that was causing it to “ooh” and “ahh.” As I made my way passed the woman and her baby in the expensive carriage, I realized it wasn’t a baby at all.

It was a Cocker Spaniel. A Cocker Spaniel wearing a flower collar and a red, white and blue ribbon on her head. A Cocker Spaniel was what I heard whimpering.

I shouldn’t have seen a baby carriage and assumed there was a baby inside. My bad.

I stopped at Publix recently and as I was searching the aisles, a woman passed me with a beautiful white Maltese sitting in the front part of her cart.

A Maltese in the meat section of Publix.

It was the clearly the Dog Days of Summer.

Still not the weirdest thing I’ve seen since moving to Florida, where bringing your dog with you everywhere seems perfectly normal. I was in a local mall recently where a couple was shopping with their capuchin service monkey (the kind like Marcel on ‘Friends’ or the ‘Outbreak’ monkey, which might have actually been the same monkey). I’ve never encountered a service monkey before so I stopped to talk with the couple to learn about the work the monkey does. They explained they were socially training the monkey and she would eventually go to help someone with limited mobility with every day tasks like drinking water, turning on lights, picking up objects, etc.F9EE86CF-DE99-407E-B0E9-8FC7082840AC75521984-6905-42A7-A1C4-8F2A69DEAD80

But back to the dogs.

Palm Beach Post reader Jack Bennett of Boynton Beach said he’s had enough with people bringing their dogs in public.

“It seems that you can’t go anywhere without having to be confronted with somebody’s ‘baby,’ i.e., their dog. I can’t tell you how many times I go to restaurants and bars where I have to put up with some dog sniffing me, licking me, begging or just plain invading my space,” Bennett wrote.

The social media response was strongly divided.

But it was Bill Brown Meyers who probably had the right assessment of the situation:

So what do you think? Do you take Fido with you everywhere, or leave him at home? Take the poll and join the conversation in the comments below or here on Facebook:

Letter: PBSO’s ‘(Sheriff Ric Bradshaw) has to go, and go now’

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw in February 2015.(Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw in February 2015.(Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Seth Adams was murdered on his own property by an undercover deputy four years ago (“PBSO agrees to pay $15,000 for not providing data in Seth Adams case,” May 19). This was tragic. The withholding and destruction of evidence is nothing new under Sheriff Ric Bradshaw. I feel for the Adams family and the Corey Jones family and the many other families whose lives have been so damaged because of questionable deputy shootings.

I am a retired Palm Beach County firefighter/medic, and I have worked with many great deputies. But, seeing how Bradshaw runs the show disgusts me. He has to go, and go now.

JOE AVERSANO, WELLINGTON