Florida House unveils its health insurance plan

4:23 PM, Apr 11, 2013   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida -- The issue of health insurance continues to divide lawmakers at the state Capitol.

On Thursday, Republican leaders in the Florida House unveiled their version of extending health coverage to uninsured Floridians.

"Florida Health Choices Plus" would give disabled adults, and those with children, $2,000 a year to buy health insurance. They would pay monthly premiums of $25.

It also would require adults to work at least 20 hours a week if they don't have a disability.

The plan does not tap the $50 billion of federal cash offered under the Affordable Care Act over the next decade.

Democrats in the House say that's a mistake.

Rep. Mia Jones says Floridians are sending their tax dollars to Washington, D.C. and should be able to take advantage of that cash.

"We've been a donor state and known as a donor state for many years. We don't want to be at the top of that donor list while at the same time we're not making sure that we're providing the coverage that's available for over a million Floridians."

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said the plan that fits the needs of Florida and not the requirements of Washington.

"Our plan increases our commitment to a strong safety net and ensures Floridians are not on the hook for billions that we currently do not have."

The proposal would help an estimated 115,000 uninsured Floridians get health coverage.

Weatherford said the plan was developed on these principles:

1. Reject the federal government's "all or nothing" plan.

2. Embrace a free market solution.

3. Strengthen the safety net.

4. Ensure the integrity of our existing healthcare system.

5. Protect taxpayers by only considering plans that are sustainable.

The Florida Senate has a proposal that would draw down more than $50 billion of federal money for health coverage for uninsured Floridians over the next decade.

Dave Heller