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.
AdvertisementThe 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.
"Are you 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 committee.
"I see it as very limited as what states can do," Bean said.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Kelli Kennedy, 6th Feb 2013
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