Eighteen years ago, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford's family didn't have health insurance.
When his brother, Peter, died from brain cancer as a toddler in 1995, the family turned to a program funded by Medicaid to save them from what Weatherford called “insurmountable” medical debt.
“Peter lost his battle with cancer, and my father found himself with a mountain of medical bills that he could never afford to pay,” Weatherford said in an emotional inaugural address to the state Legislature this month. “It was the safety net that picked my family up.”
Greeted by a standing ovation, Weatherford went on to explain why he strongly opposes extending Medicaid coverage to many of the 3.8 million Floridians who lack insurance today.
Wait … what? Turns out Weatherford—a rising Republican star in Florida politics—had been under the mistaken belief that the hospital that treated Peter had provided the safety net by absorbing the costs through what hospital officials call uncompensated care, according to accounts in the Tampa Bay Times and other sources.