The purpose of this article is neither to defend nor support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). The primary purpose is to inform my fellow Floridian citizens that, unbeknownst to many of us, the State of Florida had requested, and was subsequently granted, a partial waiver from Obamacare – or so it was reported. That article was published in The New York Times on February 16, 2011. That was before the announcement that there are now over 1040 waivers granted as of March.
However, while the NYT actually reported that Florida has been granted a waiver – that is not true. The state of Florida hasn’t actually been granted any waivers as of yet. While Florida has indeed requested a waiver, it is ONLY a partial waiver in that, according to Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCartney, the request is only for an exemption to the medical-loss-ratio requirement of the PPACA. This medical-loss-ratio provision states that an insurance company must use 80 to 85% of the premium on health care services. They must meet this ratio by 2011. If they don’t, they are required to issue rebates to their customers equivalent to the difference between the the actual ratio and the 80 – 85% requirement.
Currently, the state of Florida only requires 65 – 70% of the premium be used towards health care services. The state has requested the waiver in fear that health insurers would move out of Florida leaving millions of Floridians without health insurance or there would be less services covered in their plans. We all experienced, and are still experiencing, the affects of home insurers leaving the state after the rash of hurricanes in 2005. Either our premiums, in some cases, quadrupled, or we were dropped and forcefully moved to the state-run Citizen’s insurance.
The waiver request asks that Florida be granted a 3 year delay in implementation of this section of the law in order to provide current health insurers in the state the time needed for them to meet the requirement. Without this delay, insurers will be on the hook to their customers for as much as $60 Million. If this happens, there are three choices the insurers are left with:
1. Leave the state – leaving millions uninsured and on their own to find insurance coverage
2. Reduce the number and types of services covered – which would essentially lead to rationing of care, or
3. Increase premiums in order to continue to provide the same coverage and pass the burden on to the consumers – as is often the case.
Regardless of the choice, none are acceptable. We Floridians, as a whole, should hope and pray that either the waiver is granted – or – the Supreme Court ultimately rules that the PPACA is unconstitutional as currently written otherwise a state that is already reeling from increased home owner’s insurance rates, increased property taxes, and increased unemployment, will be hit once again with another unwieldy financial burden.
Unfortunately, according to Thomas Perrin, director of public affairs of The James Madison institute,
“With Florida leading the way in the multistate lawsuit against the administration’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the likelihood of receiving any new waivers relating to health care has been greatly diminished,”
According to Christie Herrera, director of the HHS Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council in Washington, D.C., the lengthy list of companies and unions which have already received waivers could indicate political concerns will indeed factor in to decisions about which states receive waivers.
“It’s interesting that thirty companies and unions have gotten a waiver before the medical-loss-ratio rules are even written,” said Herrera. “We’ll see which states get approval. This is the new age of ObamaCare: Mandates for everyone, unless you’re politically powerful enough to escape them.”
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