October 29, 2020
Florida Public Services Face Deep Cuts as Congress Confirms Anti-ACA Supreme Court Justice Instead of Passing Overdue Coronavirus Financial Aid Package
Since Pandemic Began Florida Billionaires’ Net Worth Jumps $17.4 Billion, or 9.5% – Three Times the State’s $5.3 Billion Revenue Shortfall in 2020 & 2021
TALLAHASSEE, FL.—Florida has 59 billionaires whose collective wealth has jumped by $17.4 billion, or 9.5%, since mid-March, roughly the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the Affordable Care Act faces increased risk because of Congressional action and federal lawmakers continue to neglect passing an overdue relief package.
Despite growing needs and economic hardship caused by the pandemic, President Trump and U.S. Senate Republicans have not passed another financial aid package to help working families and to maintain state and local public services. Instead, they opted to rush confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice before the election. The Senate voted 52-48 yesterday evening to add Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Florida Senators Rubio and Scott each voted yes, despite Barrett’s on the record opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Barrett’s addition to the court increases the likelihood that millions will lose healthcare and consumer protections for pre-existing conditions after the November elections, when the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear California v. Texas, the Trump-backed lawsuit to overturn the ACA.
Supreme Court repeal of the ACA could take health coverage away from 1,750,000 people in Florida, according to the Center for American Progress. It could also eliminate protections for 3,526,000 with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or alcohol or drug addiction, who could be denied coverage without the law, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. But while millions would lose coverage and protections, rich households and prescription drug corporations would reap big tax benefits.
Repealing the ACA would give wealthy households making at least $3 million a year a $198,000 annual tax break, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Prescription drug corporations would receive an additional $2.8 billion annually in tax breaks while seniors would face higher drug costs because of the roll back of ACA provisions that closed the Medicare Part D coverage gap saved more than 11.8 million Medicare beneficiaries over $26.8 billion on prescription drugs – an average of $2,272 per beneficiary, between 2010 and 2016, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
In Florida, 344,343 seniors each saved an average of $1,068 in just one year thanks to the ACA (2016 is the most recent year available). Currently, the price of prescription drugs is rising faster than any other medical good or service. Despite promise after promise, the President has not passed legislation to require negotiations in Medicare that could lower drug prices considerably for seniors.
Tax breaks from ACA repeal at the Supreme Court would add to the significant tax giveaways that drug corporations have already gained under the President’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act law which also tremendously benefitted wealthy households.
In fact, a recent report shows that even in the current economic and public health crisis caused by COVID, billionaires in Florida are amassing huge gains in wealth while families, businesses and low wage workers are struggling to make ends meet. In the first six months of the pandemic, the total net worth of the state’s billionaires rose from $183.2 billion to $201.9 billion, based on this analysis of Forbes data while:
- 736,024 fell ill with the virus and 15,412 died from it [Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center]
- 3,838,713 lost their jobs between March 21 and Sept. 26, 2020 [U.S. Department of Labor]
- 373,194 were collecting unemployment on Sept. 26, 2020 [U.S. Department of Labor]
5,332 businesses closed [MSN Money]
- 1 in 6 renters reported being behind on September rent payments, including 19% of Florida renters. [CBPP]
Without a federal fiscal relief package, workers will face even greater loss of jobs and services than has already occurred. The Economic Policy Institute predicts that in Florida 280,800 public-sector jobs employing teachers, public safety workers and health care workers, will be lost by the end of 2021 without more federal aid. If the ACA is overturned, people with pre-existing conditions including those who have had COVID, may be denied or overcharged for coverage. Seniors will lose no-cost preventive care for cancer screenings, vaccines and check ups as well as discounts on prescription drugs in Part D.
“It’s clear what President Trump and our Florida Senators’ priorities are in this national crisis and those priorities do not include affordable medicines for seniors or expanding healthcare so that everyone can get the coverage and services they need,” said Bill Sauers, President of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans. “Instead, it’s more politics as usual–no matter who it hurts. This is exactly why Trump has failed so miserably in responding to the COVID crisis–rather than listen to his constituents and his own public health experts–he’s putting his politics ahead of our healthcare. Voters must make themselves heard at the ballot box.”
Contact: Barbara DeVane, firstname.lastname@example.org