Scott talks Health Care Act at UNF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Florida decided this year not to manage the federal government's Affordable Health Care Act and instead will let the government take care of it starting next year.

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott met with health leaders at the University of North Florida to discuss its implications for the state.

State lawmakers are at a standstill on expanding Medicaid to thousands of Floridians. Scott spoke vaguely about how the state will manage the new health care law.

Scott made it clear that Florida's role in President Obama's Affordable Care Act is still uncertain.

"This is a great event today to talk about the president's health care law," Scott said. "We went through our session last year. There was a decision not to do an expansion. But there are things that continue to happen federally and we will see what comes out."

The state decided to let the federal government implement new health care options for the underinsured instead of receiving federal dollars to set up its own insurance plans.

The state decided not to expand Florida's Medicaid program, and because of that some people will not be covered under the new health care law. The people left without coverage are those with incomes below 100 percent of poverty who do not currently qualify for Florida Medicaid. Federal subsidies will be available to people with incomes above 100 percent of poverty to help make health insurance more affordable.

State Sen. Aaron Bean says Medicaid expansion is too costly and expects state lawmakers will likely be in a gridlock again over the issue next session.

"Unless there's a spark or a change, hopefully the federal government will come in and say, 'You can take baby steps or part way,'" Bean said. "Because right now the federal government says, 'You have to do all or nothing.' Because right now Bean's crystal ball says, 'We are going to produce the same result last year.'"

Meanwhile the state's health leaders say they are waiting to find out what lawmakers will decide as they try to manage Floridians' current health care and rising costs.

"Our focus is to use the resources we have now for every Florida adult, kid and family," said Surgeon General John Armstrong, of the Florida Department of Health.

"I've got to trust and believe that they know the impact," said Kelli Wells, health director of the Florida Department of Health in Duval County. "We are going to make progress through this and come up with something that is going to work and meet the needs of the community."

Bean said lawmakers expect to discuss the new health care law when they return to session in March.

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