By Dr. Rich Swier – Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida will join other states in opting out of Medicaid expansion and state-run exchanges.
If the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not repealed before January 1, 2014, Florida will implement and comply with the required sections of the act.
After reviewing the impact of the Supreme Court ruling that gave Florida the flexibility to legally opt out of implementing one of the costliest provisions of the ACA, commonly known as “ObamaCare,” Governor Rick Scott has decided two major provisions in the law are inconsistent with his mission to grow jobs for Floridians, make sure there is adequate funding for education, and to keep the cost of living as low as possible.
The Affordable Care Act does not require states to take any action before the 2012 general election, and the full law does not take effect until January 1, 2014, provided it is not repealed before that date. Governor Scott, like other state governors, has made it clear that even though Florida will opt out of implementing two major, yet optional, provisions, should there be any legal obligation to implement ObamaCare, the state will follow the law.
Florida will opt out of spending approximately $1.9 billion more taxpayer dollars required to implement a massive entitlement expansion of the Medicaid program. A second provision in ACA gives Governor Scott the flexibility to opt out of building insurance “exchanges.”
“Floridians are interested in jobs and economic growth, a quality education for their children, and keeping the cost of living low,” Governor Scott said. “Neither of these major provisions in ObamaCare will achieve those goals, and since Florida is legally allowed to opt out, that’s the right decision for our citizens.”
Florida already has health care safety net programs for those with the greatest need, including assistance for families with incomes up to 133% of the poverty line, and Florida KidCare to ensure no child goes without health care in Florida.
But even though the federal government has promised to initially pay 100% of the increase in Medicaid payments for the first three years of ObamaCare, the burden increasingly shifts to Florida taxpayers in future years. Medicaid, which has been growing for years at three-and-a-half times as fast as Florida’s general revenue, will soon grow even faster under ObamaCare, and education funding will be adversely impaired if we do not control the growth in Medicaid spending.
Another provision in ACA gives Governor Scott the flexibility to opt out of building insurance “exchanges” that will result in higher insurance premium costs – more money out of the pockets of Florida’s families and businesses. The Congressional Budget Office has said that insurance premiums available on state exchanges will rise another 10-13% under the rules of ObamaCare. In states already operating insurance exchanges set up under similar rules, health care premiums are substantially more expensive.
“The real problem with health care is that costs continue to rise. That’s why I believe we need more choice for patients, more free-market competition, increased accountability for providers, and incentives for personal responsibility,” said Governor Scott. “These are the things we can do that will hold down health care costs and make it affordable for more people. Unfortunately, ObamaCare doesn’t do any of those things. In Florida, we are focused on becoming the number one place for businesses so that Floridians have more jobs.”