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In a Shift, Gov. Scott Will Now Talk Health Care Reform, But With Reservations

| November 19, 2012

With a majority of Floridians rejecting an attempt to oppose Obamacare in a referendum, Gov. Rick Scott is looking for a new angle on the health care reform law.

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday requested a meeting with federal officials about the Affordable Care Act and other health-care issues — including pressing for approval of the state’s effort to enroll almost all Medicaid beneficiaries in managed-care plans.

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Scott sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that said we “share the same goals when it comes to lowering the costs of health care and addressing the need for better access to quality health care.” But while seeking a meeting, Scott also expressed doubts about whether a key part of the Affordable Care Act would meet those goals.

The governor also tied in the state’s controversial Medicaid managed-care proposals, which lawmakers approved in 2011 but have yet to receive approval from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency under Sebelius.

“Statewide Medicaid managed care is one way we can act immediately to encourage more competition in health care which would drive down costs and increase outcomes and services,” he wrote.

Scott sent the letter just days after saying he was willing to negotiate with the federal government about the Affordable Care Act, the health overhaul that President Obama and congressional Democrats passed in 2010. Scott’s willingness to negotiate drew headlines, as he had long been an outspoken critic of the federal law dubbed “Obamacare.”

The letter also came a day after incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, confirmed that the state will not meet a deadline for telling federal officials whether it will operate a health-insurance exchange. The deadline was originally scheduled for Friday, though Sebelius late Thursday extended it to Dec. 14.

Such exchanges, which will begin operating in 2014, are a critical part of the Affordable Care Act because they will serve as online marketplaces for consumers to shop for health insurance. If states don’t establish exchanges, the federal government will do it for them.

Scott’s letter indicated skepticism that an exchange would meet the goals of lowering health costs and improving health-care access and said Florida needs more information from the federal government.

“Under the current regulatory requirements and the information we have been provided, however, Florida does not have evidence that a PPACA (another acronym for the federal law) exchange can accomplish these goals,” wrote the Republican governor, who made his fortune in the hospital industry.

But the letter signaled that Scott also wants to discuss other, seemingly unrelated health issues with Sebelius. That includes the Medicaid managed-care proposals, which Florida submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in August 2011.

The proposals have long been controversial, but it is unclear why federal officials have not made a decision about whether to approve or reject them. Republican backers say moving more Medicaid beneficiaries into managed-care plans would help control costs and coordinate care; opponents argue the move could lead to HMOs squeezing the care provided to low-income people.

Phil Williams, an assistant deputy secretary at the state Agency for Health Care Administration, said during a meeting this week that discussions have been continuing with federal officials about the managed-care proposals. He said he expects the discussions to continue and possibly accelerate.

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

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6 Responses for “In a Shift, Gov. Scott Will Now Talk Health Care Reform, But With Reservations”

  1. Magnolia says:

    It all sounds wonderful. Since many are under the impression that all this is going to be free, somebody please just tell me how we are going to pay for this and what it is going to cost. We can’t pay our Medicaid bills now and that’s supposed to be easier when everybody is covered? My dad used to have a saying, “people in hell want ice water”…yeah, well there’s a shortage of that, too.

    Another old saying: “you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip”. How many of us have already been squeezed to the max?

    And let’s not forget the most famous: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

    Might be easier to just let them arrest me. Then I get free healthcare and meals!

  2. Jonathan Strawser says:

    The liberals will vote him out. People want free stuff

  3. Stevie says:

    Health carew workers laid off in advance of Obamacare. This is just the beginning.

    “Health-care reform mandates and changes in reimbursement structures for Medicare and Medicaid are forcing health-care organizations throughout the U.S. to confront new challenges,” said Sherrie Sitarik, president and CEO of Orlando Health. “We must find better ways to deliver enhanced value to patients and lower the overall cost of care.”,0,7763193.story

  4. Samuel Smith says:

    This is a very difficult situation. On one hand, Scott’s supporters demand that social support like medicare/medicaid be cut because of spending. On the other hand, cutting that social support means that the motorized mobility chairs, type 2 diabetes care, and mental health counseling that most of his supporters depend on will be cut, too.

    • Anon says:

      @ Samuel Smith.
      It appears that those folks who back Scott and backed Romney and Ryan aren’t and weren’t smart enough to figure out that they are cutting their own throats.

      Unless they are interdependently wealthy, like the Romney crowd, the 1% they are clueless.

      And I don’t mean the one percenters who are part of motorcycle gangs.

  5. Sea dog says:

    Gov. Rick Scott stole billions from medicare, agreed to pay over a billion fines, took the 5th 75 times, hes not going to allow an opportunity like this to go by.. He and his friends will be all over this new program like tics on a dog.

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