Inside Health Policy’s Rachana Dixit reports that Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) opposition to establishing a state-based exchange may have more to do with partisan politics than the policy included in the Affordable Care Act. As it turns out, Florida is “slowly moving ahead to provide small group coverage to Florida’s small businesses,” but it’s doing so through 2008’s Florida Health Choices Act rather than the federal health care law.
Florida has refused to integrate the measure — which was spearheaded by then-state House Speaker Marco Rubio and expanded by Scott — into the requirements of the ACA, claiming that it is unconstitutional and does not “fit in with what we’re trying to do”:
An exchange consultant said Florida Health Choices, though created in 2008, has taken some time to get up and running. Rose Naff, Florida Health Choices’ CEO, told Inside Health Policy that the program is moving forward on planning a small group market pilot program that would test offering health insurance to small businesses for at least six months, and expects to have an estimated launch date soon. Participation in the choices program by employers is voluntary. […]
But the exchange consultant said that the $1 million planning grant Florida denied likely would have been spent on things the state has already done in planning for Florida Health Choices. Florida Health Choices is not the Florida exchange but the consultant said it appears that nothing would preclude it from becoming that.
While Florida will likely have to adapt to the federal law’s more stringent requirements, the exchange does compliment (and could even benefit from) the provisions in the Affordable Care Act. So far, Rubio’s law to allow employers to offer employees access to health insurance plans has not sold any policies, despite receiving a $1.5 million appropriation from the state. In 2008, Rubio championed the plan in the rhetoric of health reform advocates, saying “it’s about competition, it’s about choice, and it’s about the marketplace.”