Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott wants to talk health care exchanges

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most vocal critics of the federal health care overhaul, is dropping his staunch opposition to the law.

Scott said in an interview Tuesday with the Associated Press that he now wants to negotiate with the federal government. He said it's time for Republicans to offer solutions to help families after they lost their bid to defeat President Barack Obama.

"The election is over and President Obama won," Scott said. "I'm responsible for the families of Florida. … If I can get to yes, I want to get to yes."

Scott had previously stated that he would not go along with any parts of the health care overhaul that the state controls.

But his newfound willingness to have a "conversation" about putting it in place in Florida comes at a critical time.

States have until Friday to notify federal authorities whether they plan to set up health insurance exchanges, a marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop for the most affordable coverage and where many will get help from the government to pay their premiums. Florida so far has taken no steps to set up its own exchange.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced an extension last week: Governors can now take another month, until mid December, to submit detailed blueprints.

States now have three options: running their own exchanges, operating an exchange in partnership with the federal health officials, or letting the feds handle everything.

Scott said he still has concerns about the exchanges, including the cost of running one and whether it would increase the cost of health care for families. "I don't think anyone involved in trying to improve health care should say 'no, no, no,' " he said. "Let's have a conversation."

Florida had the nation's third-highest rate of residents without health insurance the past three years, according to census data.

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