Attorney General Bill McCollum is suing the federal government over health care reform. Incoming state Senate President Mike Haridopolos' statewide Medicaid tour was more about demonizing reform than making it work. But other states where leading politicians oppose the new federal law are still preparing to implement it — and so should Florida.
More than 20 states have taken significant steps to coordinate efforts to carry out health care reform, from enacting legislation to forming highly visible task forces. In Virginia, where the attorney general also has filed a lawsuit against the reforms, an initiative has been created to coordinate with all state agencies and prepare for the reforms. In Texas, similar efforts are being made even as the governor rails against the federal law. Yet in Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist is distracted by his U.S. Senate campaign and Republican legislators are in denial.
This week, nearly three dozen groups asked Crist and legislative leaders to form a high-profile commission to coordinate efforts. They fear state bureaucrats will make key decisions in isolation, behind closed doors — or not at all. It's a good suggestion, and the governor should follow it.
Some efforts are quietly being made. The Agency for Health Care Administration and the Office of Insurance Regulation are seeking federal money to help establish the state insurance exchanges, where consumers and small businesses will shop for health care coverage. But Florida may lose out on other federal grants because of the lack of a unified effort.
There should be more coordination in Tallahassee, and preparations for health care reform should be more transparent. Candidates can complain about the landmark federal health care law. But the political rhetoric should not delay the policy decisions needed to ensure Floridians reap the benefits they are entitled to receive.