As someone who, like many of you, has followed all news healthcare for many years, the idea that the state of Florida would be in charge of defining pre-existing conditions and minimum essential health benefits is simply frightening. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), federal law, made healthcare more accessible for more people, but provided new protections for everyone.
The House Republicans, afraid of the backlash they received after the first try to repeal and replace the ACA, are trying a different route – shifting responsibility to the states. The latest version of the American Health Care Act gives states the power to potentially undermine and diminish our protections as citizens. The definition of essential health benefits and the protections for pre-existing conditions would be optional. Left with a choice, the state of Florida has shown which way they would go. For many years our legislature has demonstrated how it feels about healthcare access and protections for Floridians. Governor Scott and the Florida legislature were the first to vehemently oppose the ACA and continue to oppose the Medicaid expansion to this day. A decision that denies much needed healthcare coverage to nearly a million hardworking, low-income Floridians
In recent weeks they have informed the federal government of their desire to implement a new Medicaid payment system, known as block grants.
Florida would receive a predetermined amount of money from the federal government, rather than the open-ended matching system we currently have. This means that if the economy stalls or we experience another Zika-like outbreak and more Floridians need medical assistance, the amount of money the state gets would not change. The already strict rules for Medicaid eligibility (the most a family of 3 can make is $6,800/yr) would become even stricter. It would leave even more vulnerable Floridians to fend for themselves or in our emergency rooms. These are not imaginary Floridians, these are real people we know, work and live with. These are our elderly in nursing homes, these are our children, these are our disabled, and they are our moms to be.
Having Governor Scott and the Florida legislature in control of even more Floridians’ healthcare scares me to death.