Once again, Floridians are ahead of the politicians in Tallahassee. Florida is one of 12 states that have met the Obama administration's target for enrolling residents in state or federal marketplaces for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. More than 296,000 Floridians have received coverage through the federal marketplace in the first four months. Among states using the federal marketplace, only Texas has more residents signed up for coverage. Nearly 100,000 low-income Floridians also have discovered through the federal marketplace that they are eligible for health coverage under Medicaid.
Imagine how many more Floridians would have health coverage if Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and their fellow Republicans in the Legislature had embraced the Affordable Care Act instead of fighting it at every turn. Imagine if they had established a state-run marketplace that could have met the needs of Floridians and avoided the early technical problems with the federal exchange. Imagine if they had not made it as difficult as possible for Floridians to get help signing up for coverage by trying to ban trained navigators from health department offices. And imagine if they had accepted $51 billion in federal money to expand Medicaid to cover another 1 million or so uninsured Floridians.
About one in four Floridians under age 65 are uninsured, and they want health coverage. They are fending for themselves and getting coverage because of the Affordable Care Act — and despite partisan efforts by the governor and state lawmakers to demonize health care reform. Just imagine what could be accomplished if our elected state leaders worked on behalf of Floridians to make the federal law work instead of trying undermine it.