By: Sharon Aron Baron
State Representative Jared Moskowitz updated the residents of a local Democratic Club on what happened during the legislative session in Tallahassee and why the budget wasn’t passed.
Moskowitz, a Democrat, whose district covers Coral Springs, Tamarac, Sunrise and Plantation told the members of the the Kings Point Democratic club in Tamarac that one of the “worst pieces of legislation” that did pass in both the House and the Senate was the bill that required a waiting period for women who wanted to have an abortion.
“This would mean that a woman would have to wait 24 hours. She would go to her doctor, her doctor would hand her information – a pamphlet, and then she would have to leave and return the next day. It’s what they call a ‘reflection period,’” Moskowitz said.
He said that because they’re so “on the fringe” on this issue, they didn’t create any exceptions. He proposed an amendment that would have created an exception for women who were raped, were victims of incest, or if the health of the mother was compromised. They voted that amendment down in committee he said, however, the Senate forced some of that amendment into the bill so there is a rape and incest exception. First, a woman must provide a doctor with documents proving these things occurred.
“Very few people that go through those experiences go to the police department and document those things.”
Moskowitz pointed out that the Republicans put out restrictive women issues on non election years.
“Last year when Governor Scott was running for reelection? No women’s choice issues. This year, an off-year election? Lot’s of of bills. This is the one that passed. Next year, presidential election? I’ll bet you we don’t see them.”
Moskowitz touched on why there wasn’t an agreement on the budget. “We saw a sleep session without a budget….we don’t have to pass any bills, if we pass the budget, we can go home as we’ve done our constitutional duty.”
He said that issues stem from the Senate’s support for using Medicaid funding to provide private insurance for 850,000 low-income Floridians. The federal government is phasing out a program to reimburse hospitals that provide care for low-income patients, known as the Low Income Pool (LIP) as it shifts to new programs provided by the Affordable Care Act.
As part of their negotiations, the Senate wants to expand Medicaid and impose new requirements on low-income residents as it phases out LIP funds, however, the House rejects that idea.
“The federal government told us at the end of last year that this will be the end of the program, but if you were to do healthcare expansion, we would look at it again,” said Moskowitz.
“All year we did nothing, and when the session came they were still doing nothing, then towards the end of the session, the issue exploded. The Senate says, ‘We want to do Medicaid expansion and the Federal government has not sent us our LIP money.’ The Senate passes a budget for Medicaid expansion and the House passes a budget with no Medicaid expansion and no LIP funding.”
“So there’s over a four billion dollar difference between both budgets,” he said. “Never before in the history in Florida has the House and the Senate passed a budget that was four billion dollars a part.”
Moskowitz will be heading back to Tallahassee on June 1-20 for a special session to pass the budget.
Other budget items in the works locally: Water improvement projects for Tamarac and road improvements for Coral Springs along North University Drive.