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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida rejects another $1 million health care reform grant



Florida officials are rejecting a second $1 million federal grant intended to help with abiding by the new federal health care law. This one, awarded to the Agency for Health Care Administration in September, would have paid to plan a system required by the law where consumers could comparison shop for health plans. None of the grant money has been spent to date.

Gov. Rick Scott has said he doesn’t want to spend time or money on the law until the high court rules. And that goes for the AHCA grant as well. It’s the second federal health care reform grant rejected by Florida this week. On Tuesday, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty returned a $1 million federal grant that would have provided a resource for consumers to monitor insurance rate changes and how premiums are spent.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, sent a letter to McCarty on Thursday urging him to reconsider the decision. She pointed out that the new law requires that 80 to 85 percent of premiums and co-payments be spent on health services rather than administrative and advertising costs.

"If you do not begin the transition from 65-70 percent medical loss ratio to 80-85 percent required by law in 2014, Florida families will receive less value for their insurance dollar and companies are certain to claim that they cannot make a transition overnight," Castor wrote.

And Florida’s six Democratic members of Congress tried to apply pressure on Scott’s administration, asking if it would also decline to enforce popular consumer protections embedded in the new health care overhaul, including allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s plan until age 26, a prohibition on lifetime coverage caps and coverage of preventative services such as mammograms and flu shots without cost sharing

"Slow-walking the implementation of the health care reform law shows a shocking lack of awareness of the health care needs of Florida working families and small business owners, but it also shows a shocking lack of fiscal responsibility," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston. "Why they are returning $1 million to anyone when the state faces a $3.6 billion shortfall is beyond me."

[Last modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 6:15pm]


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