Friday, September 20, 2013

The Sunshine State

Ed Note:  Welcome to sunny Florida--the home base for Wordsmith Wars.  Our governor is a probable unindicted co-conspirator in the largest Medicare fraud in US history and our uninsured, just in this state, would fill a medium-sized nation. Florida is one of the 50 states the World Health Organization ranks down at thirty-seventh in quality of health care. 37th.
A S Prisant

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Blocking Health Care Reform in Florida

Published: September 19, 2013   

Florida’s destructive efforts to sabotage health care reform has drawn a much-needed response from the Obama administration. Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, has been visiting the state to encourage private groups to help residents understand what insurance policies and federal subsidies will be available to them when the enrollment period opens Oct. 1. 
"I am Obamacare. I'm 34 and my
 job does not provide benefits or 
health insurance. I was in pain
for days and went to the ER. I
discovered my uterus was full of
tumors. I couldn't pay for the surgery and because it was now a "pre-existing condition"  insurance
companies would (and did!) turn
me down for coverage.  But because
President Obama passed health care
reform I was able to get health 
insurance and the surgery I needed to get well.  Thank you President Obama for helping me live."
 Florida has been shameless in attempting to destroy what top officials call “Obamacare,” with tactics that will deprive its own poor and middle-income citizens of the benefits of the national reform law. Although almost 25 percent of Florida’s population, or 3.8 million people, are uninsured, the state declined to expand its Medicaid program to cover more low-income residents despite extremely generous federal matching grants to pay for such expansions. And it refused to set up its own health care exchange, leaving that job to the federal government.

A few months ago, the Republican-dominated Legislature and Republican governor stripped the state insurance commissioner’s office of its broad powers to hold down premium increases to affordable levels.    
In the latest outrage, the state Department of Health on Sept. 9 ordered some 60 county health agencies, whose clinics treat large numbers of poor and uninsured people, to bar from their premises counselors, or “navigators,” seeking to inform people how to enroll in insurance plans and get subsidies under the health reform law. The department claimed this edict was consistent with its general policy of preventing outsiders from using county property for their own purposes and protecting individuals’ privacy. But the main goal was to keep counselors away from people apt to enroll in the health exchange. 
Ms. Sebelius has awarded almost $8 million in grants to Florida organizations to hire and train outreach workers and another $8 million to community health centers for the same purpose. Businesses like CVS Caremark, Florida Blue and insurance brokers are also mounting campaigns to inform Florida residents about what the federal law provides. With the state government so adamantly obstructive, the success of health care reform in Florida will depend heavily on such private efforts.

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