The Florida chapter of David and Charles Koch’s primary political front group, Americans for Prosperity, is being hailed as a “winner” of Florida’s 2016 legislative session. Victory for the Kochs almost always comes at the cost of average working Americans, and this time is no different. Wielding their political power over the Florida legislature, the Kochs successfully denied 1.1 million Floridians health insurance when they blocked Medicaid expansion in 2015. At the beginning of the 2016 session, AFP kicked off another round of “accountability” mailers to lawmakers — bullying their way to victory.
State director Chris Hudson called on lawmakers to “commit themselves to pushing free-market health care reforms that will yield more positive results for Florida’s most needy.” Predictably, significant reforms to Florida’s broken healthcare system failed to come to fruition during the session. AFP’s opposition to Medicaid expansion–coupled with its failure to provide any substantive alternative–has ensured that Florida maintains the dubious honor of having the third highest percentage of uninsured residents in the nation.
After pressuring lawmakers to abandon Medicaid expansion in 2015, AFP directed their influence to derailing Republican governor Rick Scott’s call for $250 million for business incentives in the 2016 session. Once again, the Kochs hypocritically ignore the countless subsidies their bottom line has benefited from. Following an aggressive direct mail and social media campaign, Republican lawmakers abandoned Governor Scott, demonstrating the fear they have for AFP and the Kochs in an election year.
For years, the Kochs worked at rigging the system in their favor — a playbook they have nearly perfected in Florida. AFP’s “win” in the state legislature is another example of the Kochs’ ability to buy their way to victory.
For more on the Koch brothers efforts to take over Florida read Bridge Project’s state report: Florida Man Buys State: Koch Impacts in the Sunshine State.