Gardiner Announces Compromise To Expand Health Care Coverage
By Space Coast Daily // May 26, 2015
Stronger Florida Solution Eliminates Phase 1 Medicaid Enrollment, Strengthens Work Requirements, Enhances Consumer Choice Options, Preserves State Control
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) announced a compromise Florida solution to offer health care coverage to more than 800,000 uninsured Floridians.
The legislation filed today by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Policy, amends the Senate’s Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange (FHIX) program to strengthen the core principles of the FHIX, including consumer choice and personal responsibility, which earned the overwhelming bipartisan support of the Senate during the 2015 Regular Session.
“We have listened to Senators, House Members, constituents and other stakeholders, and incorporated their feedback to create a stronger Florida solution the Senate, House and Governor Scott can proudly present to Washington as Florida’s best offer for a health insurance exchange that meets the unique needs of our state,” said President Gardiner.
“Passage of the FHIX plan will help mitigate the impact to our economy as we transition from LIP to a more sustainable long-term solution to the health care challenges facing our state,” said Senator Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.
“Too many people across Florida are going without basic primary care and turning to hospital emergency rooms when they are at their sickest and most vulnerable. Expanding coverage through FHIX allows for less-expensive preventative care, and is a much better investment of our limited taxpayer dollars.”
The amendment removes Phase 1 enrollment in Medicaid Managed Care, so enrollees can move straight to the FHIX marketplace on January 1, 2016, without first being enrolled in Medicaid.
Additionally, the amendment enhances broad consumer choice options within the FHIX marketplace, allowing participants the opportunity to select from plans on the federal exchange.
To strengthen work requirements, the amendment leverages existing state resources for the unemployed, clarifying that job-seeking activities that qualify for FHIX coverage must involve registration with Career Source.
While maintaining key provisions that end FHIX if the federal government fails to keep its financial commitments to Florida, the amendment reaffirms state sovereignty, preserving the authority of the legislature to review any federal waiver that varies substantially from the provisions of the FHIX program outlined in state law.
“We have the opportunity to present a united Florida solution to our colleagues in Washington,” said Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon), Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
“As with any negotiation, Florida will not get 100 percent of what we want, but neither will Washington. This legislation responsibly preserves state control, requiring state approval of any significant federal changes to our plan.”
“This legislation represents a continued effort by the Senate to advance solutions and build consensus around a fiscally responsible expansion of health care coverage,” concluded President Gardiner.
“We look forward to the work ahead and to furthering this important discussion in the days leading up to and during our upcoming special session.”
Florida Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) and Deputy Majority Leader Denise Grimsley (R-Sebring) today commented on the Senate’s proposed compromise solution to expand health care coverage to more than 800,000 uninsured Floridians.
An amendment to SB 2-A, filed today by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) builds on the strong conservative framework of the original Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange (FHIX) program, which passed the Senate will overwhelming bipartisan support during the 2015 Regular Session, while offering key enhancements aimed at building consensus with a growing coalition of supporters.
“FHIX represents the most significant health care reform package in state history and we challenge our colleagues in the House of Representatives and Governor Scott to unite with us to compel the federal government to approve our free-market, consumer-driven alternative to Obamacare Medicaid Expansion,” said Leader Galvano.
“Together, we can reject a one-size fits all Washington approach and forge a path that is right for Florida.”
“Stronger work requirements, improved consumer choice, and a complete elimination of Phase 1 Medicaid enrollment keep the Senate FHIX plan in line with the values of the hard-working taxpayers of Florida who are tired of big-government entitlement programs,” said Deputy Leader Grimsley.
“Preserving our state sovereignty and emphasizing personal responsibility are principles my constituents value, and I am pleased to see the Senate craft a compromise that enhances these key components of the FHIX program.