Gov. Rick Scott and the three-member Florida Cabinet
have signed off on a controversial new disclosure form that critics say is
intended to poison Floridians against the federal healthcare law.
The Florida Legislature passed a law requiring the form after Republicans argued that policyholders need to know how federal reforms will affect their premiums. Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater -- all Republicans -- on Tuesday approved the disclosure forms unanimously and with no debate.
In recent weeks, critics have said the forms are useless and any efforts to compare policies that comply with the healthcare law to those that don't is "fuzzy math."
"It's totally about politics, and, probably more importantly, it's an incredible waste of money," said Bill Newton, executive director of Florida Consumer Action Network, which supports the federal law.
Prior to a vote, Putnam referred to the Office of Insurance Regulation's report that said individual plans would have an average increase of 30 to 40 percent under the federal law. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has questioned those estimates.
"Across the country we have seen press announcements by state insurance commissioners that consistently indicate substantial increases in premiums to the consumer, especially in that individual market," Putnam said after the meeting.
Florida has 3.5 million uninsured residents, many of whom may opt to enroll in healthcare exchanges to purchase coverage. Individuals who make between $15,971 and $45,960 will qualify for tax subsidies that could cover all or most of the cost of their premiums.
"It's misleading to show the insurance premiums without showing what the costs will be for consumers when you factor in the subsidies," said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, an advocacy group. "It doesn't matter what the premiums are, it matters what you're going to pay."
(c)2013 The Miami Herald
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