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Joe Negron, Governor ‘Reasonable’ to Question Health Care Cost

January 9, 2013 - 6:00pm

Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said Gov. Rick Scott -- who has come under fire from the media and some medical groups for using state projections on potential health care costs -- was reasonable to question the potential economic impact of the Affordable Care Act on Florida.

There are a lot of moving parts in determining what happens if you expand Medicaid, Negron said. Some individuals who would be covered under the expansion of Medicaid would fall off other areas of the budget.

Plus, when the Affordable Care Act rolls out next year, with the massive amounts of coverage and advertising for new patients, I think what youll see is we have people eligible for Medicaid -- that havent signed up for Medicaid -- who will take advantage of the program.

Negron, whose Senate Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will review state numbers on Monday, was speaking before moderating a panel on coverage for Floridians during the Foundation of Associated Industries of Floridas Health Care Affordability Summit in Orlando on Thursday.

I think well come up with better rates, but I think the governor is reasonable in questioning the costs and making sure we dont commit to something we cant afford, Negron said.

Scott, a critic of the Affordable Care Act, has been pilloried for using Agency for Health Care Administration numbers that estimated Florida could be hit with up to $26 billion in additional charges over the next decade as the new law takes hold over the next five years.

The agency had earlier estimated the cost at $8 billion.

The health care advocacy group Florida CHAIN quickly questioned the states numbers after they were released late last year, noting that the states scenario requires everyone eligible signing up and disregards the federal contribution to the program.

Florida spent about $21 billion on Medicaid in the past year, of which the federal government covers nearly 60 percent.

Alan Levine, senior vice president and Florida Group president for Health Management Associates, said he's been told by insurance companies that young people could see their premiums grow 40 percent to more than 100 percent because of provisions in the Affordable Care Act.

"As the costs go up, the small group market is going to see more of a death spiral, and more young people are going to opt not to buy coverage because it's cheaper to pay the penalty," Levine said,

"I think that's going to drive up the cost of insurance and people under 133 percent of the poverty line are going to wind up flipping from private coverage to Medicaid."

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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