ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Florida Governor Rick Scott says Obamacare is bad medicine for the state.
Scott campaigned against it in his bid for governor, spent millions of his own fortune trying to defeat it, and now, in the face of last week's high court ruling, is wagering some political capital, too.
"We're not gonna implement this Medicaid expansion," Scott boldly repeated, making the rounds with TV networks and cable news outlets.
Scott is rapidly becoming the face of the movement to reject Obamacare.
His office, says the federal government, which has promised to fund 100 percent of the cost for at least the first three years, will eventually short-change states that adopt the system.
Lane Wright, Scott's press secretary, says the federal government is notorious for making unfulfilled promises, leaving states holding the bag. "We don't want to get into a position where we have to put Florida taxpayers on the hook for something we simply can't afford," he said.
Many wonder, given the Supreme Court ruling, whether states like Florida, or governors like Rick Scott, have the right to not implement Obamacare, specifically expanding Medicaid or at least creating the exchanges where health insurance could be purchased.
The short answer is yes.
Opponents are emboldened by a part of the same high court ruling that says the federal government can't make states participate by threatening to withhold funding.
"Is it cruel? In a way, yes," said James Mitchell from St. Petersburg.
Mitchell, who was injured in a car wreck earlier this year, thinks the governor is being stubborn for no good financial reason. With insurance, Mitchell says he and others in his same predicament would finally have the medical care needed to recover.
And once he does? "I'll work more and pay more taxes," said Mitchell.
Then there are about a million Floridians like George Johnson, 57, who would become eligible for health care coverage under a Medicaid expansion. "I've got an 11-year-old son I've been trying to take care of so it's been hard for me," said Johnson as he waited at the St. Petersburg free clinic.
Health insurance, says Johnson, would give him long-overdue peace of mind, and he thinks the governor is playing politics with people's lives.
"He needs to get on his job and do the right thing," he says.
It's a gamble that may resonate with Scott supporters and energize the GOP base. But it may also prove costly at the polls.
"I've got a different lever to pull come election day," said Mitchell. "That's all I can tell you."
The governor has also rejected the idea of Florida setting up an insurance exchange, or a marketplace where Floridians can buy into the health care coverage they need.
Again, Scott can take that stance with little or no consequence, because the federal government has already promised to create an exchange for residents in states that choose to not do it for themselves.
Considering Governor Scott has put himself front and center in this debate, you may want to let him know how you feel about it. If so, you can share your thoughts, questions, or concerns with Govenor Rick Scott by reaching his office at (850) 717-9337, or send him an email by clicking here.