TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Earlier this year, Florida state representatives blocked a measure that would provide health coverage to a million of Florida's poorest citizens. Those same lawmakers will now have to pay more for their health insurance.
For years, Florida state lawmakers have been paying just 17 cents on the dollar for health insurance. It has been far less than what other state employees pay for the same coverage. A recent announcement shows the prices are about to spike.
"We have been getting too much of a benefit as state representatives for too long," said Democratic Rep. Lori Berman.
Both Democrats and Republicans say they favor the change. House Speaker Will Weatherford acknowledged the discrepancy saying, "We are aware of the differences in what House members pay, compared to other state employees, for health insurance."
"We, as legislators, ought to live under the same rules, regulations, laws and obligations everyone else should live under," said Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz.
This past January Senators started paying the same amount as state employees -- $50 per month for individual coverage and $180 per month for family coverage -- saving taxpayers an estimated $47,000.
"There's no reason we should get special benefits," said Berman. "I totally agree, and like I said, I'm happy to be paying what other state employees are paying."
The state representatives will pay the same as state senators and other state employees starting in January.
"So if other folks have to pay more, we should have to pay more. That's what leadership is about," Gaetz said.
Even with the higher prices, state lawmakers will still be getting a good deal. The change was announced just days before enrollment begins for the Affordable Care Act. Some believe that's ironic since the same lawmakers blocked billions in federal dollars for a million of Florida's working poor.
Enrollment for the Affordable Car Act begins Tuesday.
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