TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Rick Scott says Florida will not begin implementing the federal health care law because he believes it is bad policy and too costly.
Scott told Fox News he believes the law should be repealed, hopefully by a new president elected in November. But even if that doesn’t happen, he said, Florida will not set up a health-insurance exchange or participate in an expansion of Medicaid.
“We’re not going to implement Obamacare in Florida,” Scott told Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren on Friday night. “We’re not going to expand Medicaid because we’re going to do the right thing. We’re not going to do the exchange.”
Scott’s announcement came hours after he told media that he was still considering his options in the wake of Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
State Rep. Mark Pafford, the ranking Democrat on the Florida House committee that handles health care funding, said he was not surprised.
“This is a guy who was in the private sector. He created an organization to fight the Affordable Care Act,” said Pafford, of West Palm Beach. “He then was so upset that he became governor using his own money. So it wouldn’t make sense that he would do anything else.”
Under the health care law, by 2014 states must implement a health insurance exchange, a Web-based marketplace where people can shop for insurance, or defer to a federal program. States need to submit plans to the federal government that demonstrate their readiness to launch health exchanges by Nov. 16.
States also must decide whether to move forward with an expansion of Medicaid to reduce the number of uninsured residents. In Florida about 3.8 million people, or 21 percent, are uninsured.
The Supreme Court ruling made it clear that states can stick with the status quo without being financially penalized. The federal government has promised to shoulder nearly all of the burden of the Medicaid expansion in the early years so it will cost states relatively little to participate. But Scott said Medicaid is already too expensive and the expansion would put further strain on the state budget.
“We care about having a health care safety net for the vulnerable Floridians,” Scott said on Fox. “But this is an expansion that just doesn’t make any sense.”
Many aspects of the Affordable Care Act are already in effect and do not require state involvement. That includes popular provisions like prescription drug discounts for seniors, allowing young adults to remain on parents’ insurance plans and free preventative care.
Scott’s spokesman said Saturday that if there are other aspects of the law that Florida is obligated to do, the state will comply. But the governor’s hope is that Republican Mitt Romney defeats President Barack Obama and makes good on his promise to roll back Obamacare.
“Hopefully we won’t have to worry about it because by November we’re going to have a new president-elect who is going to repeal it,” Scott press secretary Lane Wright said.
Scott said other Republican governors agreed their focus should be fighting the law and supporting Romney, including Rick Perry of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.