Florida cools: State to begin implementing healthcare law
State might even run its own health insurance marketplace. Even governor easing up on opposition.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, President Barack Obama has won re-election and a majority of Florida voters rejected Amendment 1, the effort to etch into the state constitution a permanent ban on mandatory health insurance.
With the Affordable Care Act more certain than ever, some lawmakers are calling for a careful look at how to implement it here. Even Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a staunch opponent, appeared to be softening his longstanding refusal to acknowledge the law.
“Just saying ‘no’ is not an answer,” he said in a statement released by his press office late Friday. “We need to focus on how Obamacare affects each of our families,” he said, adding he is concerned about the impact for cost, access and quality of care.
“I am looking forward to working with legislators and others on specific ways to address these issues,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has given states reason to set up and operate the online marketplaces where consumers will buy insurance starting next fall. States with their own exchanges will have more leeway to decide how much coverage plans sold on the exchanges must offer. More generous base benefits likely would raise the cost of premiums, though.
“I am concerned about how it affects patients, jobs and taxes on Floridians,” Scott said.
On Wednesday, hours after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had conceded, Scott sounded a more combative tone, saying it would cost too much to expand Medicaid and set up health insurance exchanges.
“No one has been able to show me that that health care exchange is going to do anything rather than raise taxes, raise the cost of our companies to do business,” Scott told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
In July, he told Fox News: “We’re not going to implement Obamacare in Florida. We’re not going to expand Medicaid.”
The health care law requires consumers to carry insurance beginning in 2014 — a little more than 13 months from now — or pay a penalty. That coverage will be purchased through online health marketplaces, if consumers lack employer-provided insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. Some who can’t afford insurance will be eligible for subsidies.
If Florida doesn’t establish its own online marketplace, the federal government will do it for the state. The deadline for governors to decide on running their own state’s insurance exchange is Friday. States planning to do so must supply a blueprint by Dec. 14.