Americans for Prosperity, a conservative organization backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, took aim at Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Monday, accusing him of working against his state's interests with his apparent change of heart on Obamacare.
In a statement, AFP said that Scott's recent signal that he was willing to consider implementing key provisions of President Barack Obama's health care reform law was a step in the wrong direction.
"AFP is extremely disappointed in leaders in Florida suggesting that the Sunshine State should create a health insurance exchange” said Slade O’Brien, AFP’s Florida State Director. “An exchange will increase insurance premiums on consumers and taxes on hardworking families. Florida’s best intentions will be masked by the federal government’s onerous requirements.”
Scott had stood as one of the most stubborn adversaries of Obamacare, even in the wake of the president's reelection, which effectively secured the law's existence. But after first vowing to reject moves to set up a state-run health insurance exchange and expand Medicaid rolls under the Affordable Care Act, Scott said last week that he was ready to "have a conversation." Leaders in the state legislature have also signalled a willingness to take steps toward implementation.
AFP's statement makes note of a number of other GOP governors who have maintained their staunch opposition to Obamacare and accuses Florida's Republican leadership of caving to federal pressure. Nicole Kaeding, AFP's state policy manager, also weighed in, suggesting that Scott and his deputies were being bought off by the prospect of federal funds allocated in order to help establish the exchange.
"Florida’s leaders are showing a real lack of resolve exchanging health care freedom for these temporary funds.” said Kaeding. “Creating an exchange puts state taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars every year. Florida should reject these bloated bureaucracies.”
While AFP charges Scott with ensuring a future financial burden with his compliance, HuffPost's Jeffrey Young breaks down the importance of state-run health insurance exchanges to the broader health care law.
People will go to the exchanges to learn whether they qualify for the health insurance tax credits available to anyone earning up to four times the federal poverty level, which amounts to $44,680 this year. Those earning up to 133 percent of the poverty level, or $14,856 this year, will be entitled to Medicaid if they live in a state that doesn't refuse to expand the program. Through the exchanges, 9 million people will obtain private health insurance for 2014 and 11 million will enter the Medicaid program or the Children's Health Insurance Program that first year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
A group of governors sent a letter to the administration late last week, asking it to extend a deadline for states to decide whether to set up marketplaces and take the time to answer their questions. While the administration pushed the deadline back until next month, a number of GOP governors have already decided to stand firm in rejecting the exchanges.