Saturday, June 23, 2018
Health

Scott, Cabinet sign off on forms outlining cost of health care law

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott and the three-member Florida Cabinet have signed off on a controversial new disclosure form that critics say is intended to posture Floridians against the health care law.

The state Legislature passed a law requiring the form after Republicans argued that policyholders need to know how federal reforms will affect their insurance premiums.

Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater — all Republicans — on Tuesday approved the disclosure forms unanimously and with no debate.

In recent weeks, critics have said any effort to compare policies that comply with the health care law to those that don't is "fuzzy math."

"It's totally about politics, and, probably more importantly, it's an incredible waste of money," said Bill Newton, executive director of Florida Consumer Action Network, which supports the federal Affordable Care Act.

Before a vote, Putnam referred to the Office of Insurance Regulation's report that said individual plans would have an average increase of 30 to 40 percent under the law.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has questioned those estimates.

"Across the country we have seen press announcements by state insurance commissioners that consistently indicate substantial increases in premiums to the consumer, especially in that individual market," Putnam said after the meeting.

Florida has 3.5 million uninsured residents, many of whom may opt to enroll in health care exchanges to purchase coverage.

Individuals who earn between $11,490 and $45,960 will qualify for tax subsidies that could cover all or most of the cost of their premiums.

"It's misleading to show the insurance premiums without showing what the costs will be for consumers when you factor in the subsidies," said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, an advocacy organization.

"It doesn't matter what the premiums are. It matters what you're going to pay."

Correction: Individuals who earn between $11,490 and $45,960 will qualify for tax subsidies that could cover all or most of the cost of their premiums in the new health care exchanges. An earlier version of this story had an incorrect salary range.

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