At one point, a two year battle took place in the Florida State Legislature (c. 2013-2015) – resulting in the granting of powers (or at least the return of same) to state regulators, letting them approve health insurers rate increases.
Now such power may be coming home to roost. In a recent article in The Hill, by Sarah Ferris, who cites the two year battle above, says ”The cost of Obamacare plans in Florida will rise about 9.2 percent next year,” . . . “Under the new rates, the average monthly premium will rise to $400 next year, up from $384, not taking into account Obamacare subsidies.”
While a number approaching 10 percent for a rate increase of any kind may not be music to the ears of some, Ferris’ Hill story points out, “The state’s new negotiating abilities were clear in some cases. Aetna, one of the largest companies, had proposed a rate hike of 20.9 percent. The final rate was 13.9 percent.”
According to a recent report by Jason Hart in Florida Watchdog.org (online, 5/11) one hope the Obama administration had about Affordable Care Act implantation was that states would fall right into line, at least when it came to Medicaid expansion.
But, as the FloridaWatchdog.org account also says, “combined with nationwide spending and emergency room data, threats to existing Medicaid waivers are solidifying Obamacare opposition.” The result is a backfire on the Obama administration.
Christie Herrera, who is a senior fellow at Florida’s Free-Market Foundation for Government Accountability, is quoted by Watdog.org, as saying: “I think people are starting to see that it’s not the little guy pushing Obamacare in Florida. It’s big hospitals, big business, big insurance companies.”
One result, according to Florida Watcdog.org, is Florida gov. Rick Scott having filed suit against the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). That suit is over “plans to stop funding the state’s Low Income Pool program, which compensates hospitals for seeing uninsured patients,” according to Hart’s Watchdog report.
Others suing HHS include Gov. Greg Abbott, R.-Texas, and Gov. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.
More Obamacare news from The Sunshine State. Republicans are huddling in there – in the state’s capital, Tallahassee – as they gear up to oppose Medicaid Expansion full throttle. Meanwhile, Florida State Senators have held a “public workshop,” according to the Orlando Sentinel – in a report (online, by Gray Rohrer, Apr. 22).
Indicative of the depths of feelings over the Obamacare issue in Florida, the Orlando Sentinel report elaborates, “Members of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, group of leaders from multiple faiths, added to that pressure Tuesday [Apr. 21]. They met with [Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando] to thank him for pushing for the Medicaid expansion plan, after first praying for the House to come around on the issue.”
Meanwhile Florida state senators have also “pushed for Medicaid expansion as a replacement for care for the poor and uninsured.” Additionally, according to the Orlando Sentinel, one plan supported by Gardiner, “requires the 800,000 newly eligible Medicaid recipients to pay co-pays and premiums and be employed or looking for work.”
Rohrer’s report also notes, “Americans for Prosperity, a free-market advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, is running ads across the state attacking senators from supporting Medicaid expansion.”
Floridians who buy health insurance on the individual market for next year will face an average increase of 13.2 percent in their monthly premiums, according to rate proposals unveiled Monday by the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation.
Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that his state will go along with the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid to cover all residents under 138 percent of the federal poverty line. In states not agreeing to the expansion, those earning between 100 percent and 138 percent of poverty will be able to get tax credits to buy insurance on state exchanges. However, those below the poverty level not now poor enough to be eligible for unexpanded Medicaid will be left out.