Florida has already missed a deadline to begin running a health-insurance exchange in January 2014, which means the federal government will at least initially operate it. The law calls for each state to have an exchange, which will be an online marketplace for people to shop for insurance coverage. Depending on income levels, many people will be able to qualify for federal subsidies.
Despite the missed deadline, Negron said the state could enter a partnership with the federal government to run an exchange or could operate its own exchange in later years.
The potential Medicaid expansion also is drawing heavy attention, as backers say it would provide coverage to more people and reduce the amount of uncompensated care provided by hospitals and health professionals. The expansion would allow people with higher income levels to qualify for Medicaid and also would allow childless adults — a group now largely excluded from the program — to sign up.
Safety Harbor physician Owen Linder and Tarpon Springs physician Lawrence Floriani told lawmakers that the expansion would lead to health coverage for more working Floridians, such as low-wage employees in the service industry. With the large number of uninsured Floridians, Floriani said after the House meeting that state government appears willing to "reduce their lives to a question of dollars and cents."
But Rep. Matt Hudson, a Naples Republican who is vice-chairman of the House select committee, expressed frustration with the federal government. For example, he said Washington will not allow the state to only partially expand Medicaid and still qualify for increased federal funding that has been included in the law.
"That was an all-or-nothing offer that was presented to the state,’’ said Hudson, who also is chairman of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.