TALLAHASSEE (NSF) – Looking for ways to expand health-care coverage, a Senate committee next week is slated to consider a wide-ranging proposal that would set up a new insurance-exchange program, according to documents filed Thursday.READ MORE: Postal Worker Shot At In Florida City; Suspect In Custody
The proposal (SPB 7044) would create what is dubbed the Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange Program, or FHIX, as a “marketplace” for enrolling people in private insurance coverage.
It comes as senators and a variety of interests, including business and hospital groups, seek to expand coverage for low-income Floridians and tap into billions of dollars in federal money — without going along with a straight-up expansion of the Medicaid program.
The Senate Health Policy Committee has placed the 49-page bill on its agenda for a Tuesday meeting. The committee this week held a workshop on possible coverage-expansion ideas, with Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, saying senators were “looking at options.”
The federal Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, promised to funnel tens of billions of dollars to Florida if the state agreed to expand Medicaid eligibility to cover more low-income people. House Republican leaders have rejected such a Medicaid expansion, arguing in part they don’t believe Florida can count on the money.
The new Senate proposal appears to target the same population of low-income people who would be covered through expanding Medicaid. It also appears to rely heavily on the federal funding made available through the Affordable Care Act.READ MORE: Double Shooting Investigated In NW Miami
But the structure of the private-insurance exchange would be substantially different than Medicaid, and the new program also would place additional restrictions on people seeking coverage.
Under the bill, for example, applicants would have to show proof of employment, on-the-job training or pursuit of education. A parent with a child under 18 would have to be taking part in such activities at least 20 hours a week, while childless adults would be required to spend 30 hours a week.
Also, people who are enrolled would be required to pay monthly premiums. For the lowest-income people, those premiums would be $3 a month. For others, they would increase to as much as $25 a month. Also, the bill leaves open the possibility of participants being charged limited amounts of co-payments, deductibles or other out-of-pocket costs.
The bill would involve roles for the state Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Children and Families and the Florida Healthy Kids Corp. But a key role in running the exchange would be played by Florida Health Choices, a type of health marketplace that has signed up relatively few people since being created by lawmakers in 2008.
Bean has been a major supporter of Florida Health Choices and formerly served as its chairman. The program also has received support in the past from House leaders, such as current Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes.MORE NEWS: Here's How Royal Caribbean Will Deal With Vaccinated, Unvaccinated Passengers
The News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders contributed to this report.