Florida Undercutting Health Care Enrollment
As many states are about to roll out and introduce one of the linchpins of the Affordable Care Act, the insurance exchanges which are designed to make health care more affordable, a handful of states are taking the opposite approach. They are making enrollment efforts more complicated and limiting information about the new program.
One of the primary offenders is the state of Florida, where Governor Rick Scott and the Republican controlled state legislature have made it more challenging for their fellow Floridians to obtain the cheapest insurance rates under the Florida Health Insurance Exchange, and to get help from outreach counselors trained specifically for the new health care program.
Missouri and Ohio, who also seem to be trying to sabotage Obamacare, have also moved to undercut the law and its insurance exchanges, which will be opening on October 1st. In Georgia, the state insurance commissioner, Ralph T. Hudgens, has said he will do “everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”
The secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, along with the Obama administration, are intensifying their efforts to win public support for the exchanges in Florida and elsewhere. Last week, she made a three-city visit to Florida, which has the country’s second largest number of uninsured residents, and had sharp words for the state’s unwillingness to support the law. She will did the same in Missouri later in the week.
“It’s unfortunate that keeping information from people seems to be something of a pattern here in the state,” Ms. Sebelius said at a news conference in Miami, referring to restrictions on outreach counselors.
The purpose of the online exchanges is to offer a variety of insurance plans at subsidized prices. They are meant to make health care more affordable to lower-income people who do not have insurance. Designated outreach counselors, also being called navigators, provide information about the plans and help enroll applicants.
Even among those states that are actively against the law, Florida became a rogue earlier this year by passing a bill removing for two years the state insurance commissioner’s ability to approve insurance rates for new health plans. This leaves Florida residents vulnerable to higher rates at a time when the new health plans will be introduced.
Meanwhile, in other states, insurance commissioners have used the law to obtain better deals for consumers.
It just seems like Republicans are trying everything they can to throw up roadblocks to the law. They couldn’t beat it in Congress. They tried 41 times now to repeal it. They lost in the Supreme Court. Now they are fighting in individual states, but it would seem at the expense of the residents of those state.
Time will tell.