Florida is reconsidering the option to run its online
marketplace and has even missed the deadline to do so, as lawmakers were
deliberating whether to partner with federal health officials or opt for
partnership with organizations already experienced in running similar programs,
instead of building something new.
Florida Healthy Kids Corp. is accountable for 300,000
children covered, and is responsible for selection of plans and decides on the
eligibility criteria. They collect $31 million in premiums per month - these
are some of the main functions of online exchanges.
The Corp deals with individual health covers and the
online exchange will need to deal with groups and small businesses. Executive
Director Rich Robleto said they would run the main operations of the exchange.
There are 475,000 uninsured children in Florida, it would
be difficult to calculate the number that would be acceptable for Medicaid
under the Affordable Care Act, and according to him a third of those children
were already eligible under Medicaid - though not yet enrolled.
Robleto anticipated that about 75,000 to 100,000 would
come under the CHIP program and the same number under commercial coverage.
Lawmakers wondered whether Florida Health Choices would
have a say in the federal overhaul. The online market is where small businesses
could browse for plans and individuals could shop in the coming months.
Shoppers would be informed of their eligibility for federal health subsidies.
concerned you're going to get pre-empted by the federal exchange because you
don't offer the subsidy?" asked Republican Sen. Joe Negron.
"It does make no sense for us to compete against a
subsidized offering," said Rose Naff, CEO of Florida Health Choices. She said
the organization will likely need to shift its presence in the market.
South Florida Democratic Sen. Elaine Schwartz also
complained that Florida Health Choices was started in 2008 and still isn't
operational five years later.
Naff said the website is slated to be up and running at
the end of the month.
"If we made a
decision soon we could certainly be open for an open enrollment period next
October," said Robleto.
Lawmakers still have some major decisions to make about
so-called Obamacare' before making commitments.
"I'm still searching and struggling to find an answer as
to why the state would want to operate its own exchange. The rules are
changing...it's scary to put up that much state resources without knowing the
full implementation and implication of what is going to happen," said
Republican Sen. Aaron Bean.
Currently federal health officials have indicated that
all insurers who qualify and want to sell under the exchange are welcome.
States could limit it to a smaller number of plans, set
their own accreditation rules and quality standards, said Brian Webb, a manager
with the National Association of Insurance Commission, who also addressed the
"I see it as very limited as what states can do," Bean
Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Kelli Kennedy, 6th