Florida Gov. Rick Scott said his state will opt out of implementing optional portions of the Affordable Care Act that deal with expanding Medicaid and building a public insurance exchange to sell coverage.
He said that Florida will implement the required sections of the law, also known as Obamacare, but will wait to see the results of the 2012 elections before deciding on implementing any others.
GOP leaders and presidential candidate Mitt Romney have vowed to repeal the law. The ACA does not go into full effect until Jan. 1, 2014.
Should there be any legal obligation to implement the law, the state will follow the law, the Republican governor said.
The Supreme Court upheld the law and its controversial individual mandate as constitutional last week. The court did, however, strike down the part that would have forced states to expand Medicaid or forfeit all federal funds for Medicaid, making this expansion optional for states.
Scott said Florida will opt out of spending what he said would be $1.9 billion more to implement the expansion of the Medicaid program. The federal government has promised to initially pay 100 percent of the increase in Medicaid payments for the first three years but the burden gradually shifts to states in future years.
“Floridians are interested in jobs and economic growth, a quality education for their children, and keeping the cost of living low,” Scott said. “Neither of these major provisions in Obamacare will achieve those goals, and since Florida is legally allowed to opt out, that’s the right decision for our citizens.”
A second provision in the law gives the state the flexibility to opt out of building insurance exchanges. Scott said he opposes building an insurance exchange because insurance sold through exchanges promises to cost more. The federal government has reserved the right to build exchanges for states that elect not to do so.
“The real problem with healthcare is that costs continue to rise. That’s why I believe we need more choice for patients, more free-market competition, increased accountability for providers, and incentives for personal responsibility,” said Scott. “These are the things we can do that will hold down health care costs and make it affordable for more people. Unfortunately, Obamacare doesn’t do any of those things. In Florida, we are focused on becoming the number one place for businesses so that Floridians have more jobs.”