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Florida misses deadline on federal health care law

3:23 PM, Nov 16, 2012   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida - The state of Florida missed a deadline Friday in connection with the federal government's new health care law, but then the feds extended the deadline a month.

Florida was supposed to tell the Obama administration whether the state would operate its own health insurance exchange, which is a key part of the Affordable Care Act.

Gov. Rick Scott and Republican legislative leaders opposed the act. They hoped Mitt Romney would become president and work to repeal the law, so they postponed action on its implementation.

Health exchanges are like an Internet store where people will be able to shop for health insurance starting in 2014.

Since Florida missed Friday's deadline, now the federal government will step in and run the state's exchange.

But now state leaders are softening their opposition to the health care law because they want some control over how it's managed in Florida.

Incoming Republican House Speaker Will Weatherford says he hopes the state will have a say in operating the exchange over the long-term, but right now there are too many unanswered questions.

"The problem is there are hundreds of unanswered questions that are out there with regard to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and until we have the answers to those questions we don't know which plan gives our consumers the most choices."

Weatherford sees several options for Florida's exchange: having the state operate it, using a partnership approach with the state and federal government managing the program, or allowing the feds to run entirely.

Weatherford was asked why the state didn't anticipate the possibility that President Obama would win re-election and the health care law would move ahead.

"I don't think we've waited around. I think we've been waiting around for the federal government to give us more explanation on what the rules to the game will be and once we get those we'll make a decision."

Weatherford also says the state can't commit to operating a health exchange right now because the issue must be debated and approved by state lawmakers, who won't convene for their annual legislative session until next March.

Dave Heller

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