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Gillum steps into health insurance debate

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor, called Tuesday for the state to require insurance companies to provide affordable health coverage to people with pre-existing conditions regardless of what happens to the federal law known as "Obamacare."

Gillum offered the proposal as Congress considers changes to the federal health-care law that could affect coverage for some people who have pre-existing conditions.

"While we can't change what happens in Washington, D.C., we can impact what it is that happens right here in the state of Florida," he said.

Under a bill approved by U.S. House Republicans, states could apply for waivers allowing insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing conditions more for coverage in some circumstances.

Gillum's proposal would go further than rejecting a waiver by requiring insurance companies to cover those people at the same cost. However, Gillum would not directly answer whether he would also support requiring individuals to have health-care coverage -- a provision of the current federal law that insurance companies say is critical.

"What we would seek is obviously an opportunity for folks to be made whole," Gillum said. "And so far as we know based off of individuals' opportunity to exist under ACA (the federal Affordable Care Act), which has coverage, which the law extends to the benefit of this state, we know that those insurance companies are still writing policies, they're still pulling major profits out of this state. It would be our goal to make sure that they see the attractiveness of continuing to do business in the state of Florida."

Gillum is facing former Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King for his party's nomination for governor, while Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine have been mulling bids.