While other states implement the insurance exchanges that are the key to the success of the Affordable Care Act, Florida is doing the opposite—complicating enrollment and limiting available information about the program designed to make healthcare more affordable.
In a report by Lizette Alvarez and Robert Pear in the New York Times, Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled legislature are making it difficult for citizens to get the cheapest insurance rates through the exchange. They are further complicating matters by limiting the assistance Floridians can get from expert outreach counselors.
As part of the ACA, online exchanges will offer a range of insurance plans at subsidized prices, to make health care more affordable to lower-income people without health insurance. Outreach counselors, called navigators, will also provide advice on the plans, as well as aid in enrolling applicants.
Earlier this year, Florida passed a bill removing the state insurance commissioner’s rate-review authority for new health plans for 2014 and 2015. Floridians would be exposed to higher rates, exactly at a time when the exchanges will be introducing new health plans.
Although he eventually decided to take the $50 billion for Medicaid expansion, Scott has been a fierce opponent of ObamaCare. The state House blocked the expansion, and left the federal government to provide the health insurance exchange.
Now Scott is throwing another roadblock to implementation, by claiming privacy concerns. He argues that navigators and other health care workers involved in the exchanges could have access to the applicant’s financial and medical information, leaving it vulnerable to abuse. Attorneys general from 13 states have also expressed similar concerns over the misuse of information, whether it is intentional or not.
With the high number of uninsured Floridians, estimated at 800,000 to 1,295,000 adults and children, Scott says his state is “ground zero” for the implementation of the ACA. He is asking House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, “to thoroughly review what privacy rules and safeguards are in place.”
Democrats, however, see this latest approach as just another GOP trick to defeat ObamaCare, after failing to quash it in Congress or by overturning it in the Supreme Court.
“They are trying death by a thousand cuts,” said Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee.