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Resisting Obamacare, Florida Becomes National Aberration as Scott Battles Sebelius

| September 19, 2013

rick scott obamacare outlier

The outlier.

Florida officials are callous and secretive, willing to keep information from citizens that could save their lives, according to the Obama administration’s top health official.  Meanwhile, those same officials accuse the administration of placing the public’s safety at risk.

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It’s just another day in Florida as the Affordable Care Act’s meatiest parts head for implementation Jan. 1. While other Republican-led states have also denounced Obamacare, Florida’s intensity in the attack has made the state an “outlier,” according to the New York Times.

On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott and other state officials ramped up their attack on the federal online Marketplace and the “Navigators” who will help the uninsured use it to enroll in a health plan for 2014.

In a letter to Congressional leaders, he asked them to investigate the security of the online enrollment systems after a state-based enrollment system in Minnesota suffered a data breach because of human error.

Meanwhile Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, said on a trip to Miami on Tuesday — her third to Florida in a week –that state officials are “keeping information from people” in a political effort to foil the enrollment effort, the Miami Herald reports.

Florida citizens “have a right to know what the law is and what benefits they may be entitled to receive,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that keeping information from people seems to be something of a pattern here in this state.”

The public, caught in the middle, remains largely clueless about what is in the Affordable Care Act and whether it affects them, surveys show. NPR’s Greg Allen says that when an Enroll America staffer visited a Miami church and asked how many knew about the law, few hands went up.

As navigators prepare for Oct. 1, the day they can begin signing people up for health plans, Scott’s administration has raised a series of obstacles, as Health News Florida reported last week. The state health department sent out a directive saying navigators would not be allowed to use any of its offices for outreach and enrolling.

“It’s unfortunate that scare tactics are being used which may actually prevent people from getting healthy in the first place,” Sebelius said.

Florida has an estimated 3.8 million uninsured, and millions more who are underinsured, according to a new Commonwealth Fund study released Wednesday.

Among the ways that Florida has tried to impede Obamacare:

–It led the court challenge on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010 soon after President Barack Obama signed it into law. Attorney General Pam Bondi made it one of her high-profile issues, becoming a regular guest on Fox News to attack it.

–After the Supreme Court ruled the law was constitutional, the Florida Legislature told state agencies not to implement it because lawmakers felt sure the Republican party Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, would win the election in 2012. At that point, the law could be repealed.

–After Romney lost the election, many expected Florida to follow the lead of other states and begin implementing the law. Instead, the governor and legislature pressured the agencies not to apply for grants related to the law; some agencies had to give back grants they had already won.

–The Legislature this year voted against Florida having its own electronic marketplace for health-plan shopping, even though the state had already spent five years and several million dollars building an online shopping site, Florida Health Choices, that has yet to be used. That put state lawmakers who frequently complained about the federal government grabbing too much power in the strange position of shoving more power at the feds.

–After months of hearings and negotiations, the Florida Senate came up with a compromise plan on Medicaid expansion that would accomplish several things: Reduce the number of uninsured Floridians by about 1 million by using federal funds,  save millions of state dollars now being spent on the uninsured, and continue privatization of the Medicaid program, already well under way. But the House said no.

–The Legislature voted to strip the Insurance Commissioner’s authority to regulate health premiums for two years.

–Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty issued a report that predicted health premiums in Florida’s  individual market would soar 30 to 40 percent, thereby producing scandalous headlines. Later, others would note that the figure failed to make adjustments for the tax credits most of those shopping in that market would qualify for. He also failed to mention that the sector he was describing accounts for only 5 percent of policies.

–With the knowledge of Gov. Rick Scott, the state Department of Health ordered the health department directors around the state to bar “Navigators” — enrollment counselors helping the uninsured sign up for health plans on the Affordable Care Act Marketplace starting Oct. 1. A quick-thinking director, Dr. Claude Dharamraj, was able to get around the order by pointing out to her superiors at DOH that the state agency did not own the buildings; the county did. But by that time, most of the newspapers in the state and a number of others around the country were calling Florida officials mean-spirited for trying to block the uninsured from enrollment.

–Scott sounded an alarm at a Cabinet meeting about the federal online Marketplace’s security, suggesting that the Obama administration wanted to amass a giant database of Floridians’ health information. He also warns that there are security risks from both the machinery and the Navigators aiding in enrollment.

–Carol Gentry, Health News Florida

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12 Responses for “Resisting Obamacare, Florida Becomes National Aberration as Scott Battles Sebelius”

  1. Genie says:

    I don’t care if it’s human error, this is vital personal information I don’t want leaked.

    As for the information not being available, I googled, ” How to sign up for the ACA” and found the following site which appears to handle any questions and concerns:

    This is being handled no differently than any other federal program. This is no great secret. The information is pretty easily available.

    Do I need to come over to your house and do it for you?

    • Sally says:

      Another thoughtless comment by one of the “haves”. Maybe you WILL have to go to their houses since with you laptop since most of the WORKING poor do not have computers!

  2. Obama 2013 says:

    More proof that Scott needs to go, it was ok for him to steal from medicare but it’s not ok for the people of Florida to have affordable coverage.

    Scott’s hospital company, Columbia/HCA, pleaded guilty to criminal charges and paid a total of $1.7 billion in fines related to Medicare fraud. Even though Scott had resigned by the time the case settled, prosecutors said the widespread fraud occurred while he was at the helm.

    How do you bar outreach workers from helping the middle and lower class American’s from getting insurance coverage under a new LAW. Sounds like the government is being proactive helping people to understand the complexities of Health Insurance.

    What Obama should do it rent out office space in each county in Florida to help get this Constitutional law implemented for WE THE PEOPLE. I am sure the owners of the space and the Florida economy wouldn’t turn down taxable income.

    • Geezer says:

      I can’t believe that Flaglerlive readers aren’t aware of Florida’s healthcare plan, à la Rick Scott.
      It’s called Florida NoCare.

      You wait until your symptoms are acute, then you call 9-1-1 and have a “Bamm-balance” come
      and haul your ass to the nearest hospital. There you get the treatment you need (minus drugs),
      and then you tell them you can’t pay. That’s Florida NoCare.

      Another popular approach is to simply DIE. This can sometimes be an attractive alternative.
      No more bills, no more hassles, courtesy of Rick Skeletor Scott.

      Preventive care, you ask? Move away from Florida.

  3. Random Citizen says:

    Some of the problem with Obamacare is Obama. He’s an all or nothing non-negotiator and his ego is in the way. He doesn’t want to hear that some of the stuff in Obamacare is not good for the American people while some of it most certainly is. It’s all or nothing “so take that” with him.

    EVERY AMERICAN agrees that no one should be prevented from receiving healthcare when they need it. If you don’t, you are a monster.

    But no one should agree to create a completely redundant arm of the federal government because an adult prefers to negotiate like an immature child, Obama, has a vendetta. The insurance industry has been government regulated for years and some of the changes made are fantastic! I’m an insurance agent and it’s about time! But he screwed the public in his revenge by creating thousands of jobs to try and prove his point that no one in the insurance industry can be trusted and we need big brother to do it. He has this fancy notion that the govt can be trusted ~ like the IRS has proven so well lately. This is just one of the many mistakes he can fix instead of giving lip service to the public while he plays his silly games on the hill.

    The reason we have more than one party and many voices is so that EVERYONE is considered and no one of us feel like politicians are cramming things down our throats like he said to the entire world in his momentary flash of glory he would never do. His ego is hurting Americans.

    And now he’s at it again and throwing a temper tantrum over the budget approval flat out lying about getting calls and threats from conservative politicians to shut down the govt. What a con-artist. I wish we could fire the whole lot of them on every side and start over. We need to shut the govt down and start over. They are all full of it and toying with our tax dollars as if it’s nothing but monopoly money.

    Fix what’s wrong in Obamacare and stop acting like a child Obama. And if you joined “tea-party/republicans hate club” just to hate no matter what Obama does, you may be hurting yourself in the because we are all in this together and need to be empowered to watch each other’s backs.

  4. Diego Miller says:

    Paleface Scott tellum big lies. Him no good. Why people elect big dummy?

  5. Sherry Epley says:

    As a senior health underwriter and trainer for a major insurance carrier for over 11 years, I can assure you that our “for profit” insurance companies would continue to cover only the very healthiest Americans and decline coverage for anyone who smokes, is over weight, has high blood pressure, any heart problems, diabetes, any cancer or any of the other hundreds of diseases or ailments that are quite common to humans. . . if it were not for Obamacare! It was my job. . . I personally took out my REJECTED stamp and stopped those who needed insurance coverage the most from receiving it, at any cost. Yes, I am ashamed to say I did that.

    Again, your health records are NOT private. They have been collected and sold by the Medical Information Bureau for well over 40 years. . . Please check it out for yourselves, and tell all your friends and family.

    Everyone in the health insurance industry knows how insurance companies “cherry picked” only those at lhe lowest risk of future claims for their policies, prior to President Obama’s tremendous efforts to pass the greatly compromised Affordable Care Act. . . so that EVERY citizen in our country would have access to health care.

    Why is the ACA so compromised and complex? Why does it not provide a “public option” similar to Medicare or the many excellent health care systems provided by all other first world countries? The Republicans in Congress absolutely forced the administration of the services of the ACA through state regulated “private”, “for profit” insurance companies. Although the net costs of health care in our country is sky rocketing and threatening our entire economy, the Republicans would NOT agree to the “public option” that would hold down the costs of health care to a schedule of what is “reasonable and customary”.

    Our governor and Republican representatives in Congress have completely politicised and obstructed the implementation of the ACA in Florida, to the great detriment of our citizens. Rick Scott is personally to blame for the rise in your health insurance premiums because he deregulated in surance companies by taking away the power of Florida’s insurance commissioner to negotiate insurance. . . simply to do his best to make the ACA look bad to voters.

    Governor Scott thought you would not be smart enough to notice his political manuvering. I think he under
    estimated the Florida voter! I think our citizens will stand up and not take this manipulation any more! I think Mr. Scott will be soon sent packing by voters who are willing to do their own independent thinking, research and analysis. . . and will do the “right” thing not only for themselves, but for their neighbors as well. Support our President! Support the ACA! Vote “NO” on 1 more day of Rick Scott!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Sherry for sharing that information with us. I beleive that Obamacare could work, only if EVERYONE got out of their personal “mind set” & hammered it out. It will be perfect? No, but we have to do something. I know, having a sick child, numerous procedures, medications & missed work will wipe out all of your savings in a heart beat. At 1

  7. sea2swim says:

    Sherry, thanks for the information. Hopefully people will read it & understand. We have a daughter who was ill & it completely wiped out our savings even with our “excellent” health insurance. She will need medication for the rest of her life. My biggest fear has been that when she does have to apply for health insurance that they will deny her because of her per-existing condition. Why can’t people make Obamacare work, all I hear about is the “naysayers” & these people need to experience what it’s like to have no health insurance like many people in our state. People who have the cream of the crop insurance don’t care, they have the resources to pay, when many like myself do not. Scott doesn’t have any worries, he’s loaded & most probably has no problem getting the best medical care.

  8. rthomp11 says:

    I don’t want it either. I have followed this very closely and my husband I would end up paying somewhere between $5,000-$10,000 more for Obamacare than for the HMO we are paying for right now and we paid $17,000+ last year. I can do without Obama’s heath care. This is not affordable to me.

  9. Sherry Epley says:

    Please understand, there is no such thing as an insurance policy or health plan called “Obamacare”. We will all continue to use and have access to “exactly” the same HMOs, PPOs and what ever kind of plan we have had all these years. What Obamacare does is require that our exact same insurance companies cover EVERYONE, and not just those who will never have a claim. Obamacare also requires that insurance companies use the vast majority of the premiums you pay to be used for paying for actual health care of the policyholders. Isn’t that wonderful!!!?

    Again. . . If your insurance rates go up “more than usual” it is NOT because of Obama Care (actually, he really does CARE). The Affordable Care Act is NOT allowed to control the massive escalation of health care costs, or your insurance premiums, BECAUSE the Republicans in Congress would not allow those regulations at a federal level. The Congressional Republicans required that insurance premiums be controlled by the state legislatures.

    When Florida governor RICK SCOTT had the opportunity, he signed a bill TAKING AWAY the power of the Florida insurance commissioner to negotiate insurance premiums for Florida policy holders. Our governor only did this to use his power as a “poison pill” to make Affordable Care Act look bad! Our voters are starting to realize how they are being sabotaged by our own governor!

    Support the ACA! Support our President! Vote Rick Scott, and his cronies in the Florida state legislature out!

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