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Politics

Tom Price: Florida Right to Reject State-based Health Care Exchange, Medicaid Expansion

January 9, 2013 - 6:00pm

As Florida legislators debate how to respond to the overhaul of the federal health care system, and Gov. Rick Scott continues trying to get Health and Human Services officials to accept the Sunshine States views on Medicaid funding, at least one U.S. congressman believes they dont have to rush.

U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., on the Budget Committee and Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, supported how Florida and 30 other states have refused to set up state-run health-care exchanges by 2014.

I wouldnt be surprised if HHS had to contract that out or delay the implementation of the federal exchange, because they are nowhere near doing it, Price said on Thursday, while attending the Foundation of Associated Industries of Floridas Health Care Affordability Summit in Orlando. Or theyll do it in a way that Washington tends to do it, which is half-hearted ...

Administration officials had hoped President Obamas re-election would overcome resistance to the new health-care law. But that has not been the case. Only 19 states have signed up to run their own health insurance exchanges -- in which people can shop for private health insurance or federal subsidies to help defray the cost.

As for Floridas reluctance to expand Medicaid, instead seeking a greater control over the money, Price agreed with states that havent accepted the expansion because of unknown future costs.

While Gov. Rick Scott has taken heat this week for the number hes thrown out for the potential economic hit the state could take over the next decade, Price said the unknown costs should be a concern. Once eligibility for Medicaid is expanded, he said, it will never be reduced.

Under the funding scenario, the federal government has agreed to pick up the additional funding for three years, with the state gradually getting more of the tab.

I dont believe you ought to expand it because I think it results in an absolute uncertainty six years out and there is no way to know if the federal government will be there at all, in which case all Floridians would be left holding the bag, he said.

During a reception Thusday, Price, the evening's keynoter, announced that eventually the much-debated federal health-care law could die, given a few years, as Americans tire of the regulations in the law.

They wont tolerate it, Price said. The waits they wont tolerate. The restriction of coverage they wont tolerate. The restriction of choices they wont tolerate. The decrease in quality they wont tolerate.


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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