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FEDERAL MARKETPLACE NEEDS TO IMPROVE

The consequences of Florida's foolish decision not to create its own health insurance exchange are clearer than ever. While states that created exchanges are signing up thousands for health coverage, Florida and other states using the federal marketplace are experiencing unreasonable delays and glitches. The Obama administration has to make the online exchange work better - and fast - before irritated Floridians grow so frustrated they give up trying to make it work.

Administration officials blamed the problems with the federal marketplace on computer software problems and say consumer demand exceeded projections. That's not a software problem. That's a government mistake.

Few glitches have occurred among the state-run exchanges. The more nimble ones are easier to navigate and have successfully enabled residents to buy affordable policies. In New York, for example, 40,000 people were able to successfully apply for health insurance in one week. In California, more than 29,000 people were insured in the first five days. In Florida, the federal marketplace has produced more irritation and failed attempts than anything, although no solid numbers are available.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature should have created a state-run exchange instead of hoping health care reform fails. The Obama administration will prove the critics right unless it quickly makes the federal marketplace work more smoothly and regains consumers' confidence.

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