No matter what the court decides, the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on the 2010 health care reform law will set off a scramble in Florida, reports Ledyard King of the News-Press.
The court is expected to render a decision before its term ends this month. The ruling could come as early as Monday.
A ruling that upholds the entire law might kick-start efforts to set up health exchanges for consumers, identify as many as 2 million uninsured Floridians who will be newly eligible for Medicaid and dish out millions in insurance rebates to individuals and businesses.
A ruling that declares the entire law unconstitutional could trigger the removal of young adults from their parents’ health insurance policies, the dismantling of a special health insurance pool set up for several thousand Floridians who couldn’t get insurance elsewhere and an end to discounts in prescription drug costs for seniors.
And if the court invalidates parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, hospitals, doctors, businesses, consumers and insurance companies won’t have much time to undo actions they’ve already taken on those parts or to implement the rest of the law.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said it will cost Florida taxpayers $1 billion a year by 2018 to add an estimated 2 million people — about half the state’s uninsured population — to Medicaid rolls.
And business groups, including the U.S Chamber of Commerce, say the requirement that employers provide workers with insurance or face fines would stunt economic growth and cost seniors Medicare coverage. The chamber recently ran television ads criticizing Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, for supporting the law, which it called “a nightmare for seniors.”
Florida has about 4 million uninsured residents, or about 21 percent of the state’s population.
And Florida has been among the most defiant states in opposing the law.
Florida is leading the lawsuit filed by 26 states challenging the law’s constitutionality, saying the federal government has no right to force people to buy health insurance. Gov. Rick Scott has spurned millions in federal aid associated with implementation of the law. And his administration is doing nothing to prepare for potential implementation of the law, which critics refer to as “Obamacare.”
“We will follow the law, but we’re not going to make any movements until that unlikely day comes,” Scott spokesman Lane Wright said. “We’re not going to stress out about a law that is likely to be ruled unconstitutional and begin spending resources of time, personnel and energy to comply with that law until it’s actually upheld in the courts.”
Even if the law is upheld, don’t expect Tallahassee to ratchet up any enthusiasm for it. States are supposed to submit plans to Washington by November for their health insurance exchanges, online sites designed to help consumers learn which subsidies and tax breaks they qualify for and what coverage they can afford.
Florida is one of about 18 states that have either halted or haven’t begun planning an exchange.
The state also has done little to prepare for another key provision of the law: expanding state Medicaid programs to include more of the uninsured.