Members of the Republican-led Florida legislature who staunchly opposed to the Affordable Care Act are now encouraging residents to submit feedback on how they should implement President Barack Obama's hallmark policy.
A new web site created by Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and State Sen. Joe Negron (R-Stuart) offers Floridians the chance to give their opinions on Obamacare, something residents already did in November when they voted down a symbolic state referendum brought by the GOP that called for a ban of the law's mandates for obtaining health insurance.
The public can leave comments after individual decision points or simply leave general feedback about how Florida should respond to implementation. The site also gives residents the ability to receive email updates tracking the legislature's progress.
“In the coming months, members of the public, health care providers, representatives from Florida’s insurance industry, and countless other stakeholders will provide valuable feedback as members of the PPACA select committee discuss, evaluate and debate Florida’s policy options under one of the most complex and far-reaching federal laws in the history of our nation,” said Gaetz.
Opposition to the Affordable Care Act came from many sides of the country, but most notably from Florida Governor Rick Scott -- who not only rejected federal funds associated with it, but sued the government.
But after Obama's reelection, Scott has softened his long-defiant stance on Obamacare, saying it was finally time to "have a conversation" with the administration.
Meanwhile, Gaetz created a special committee to analyse the impact of Obamacare on Florida. Last week, at a first public forum that descended into what one outlet called a "horror show," fired-up Tea Party activists lashed into the senate president after it became apparent that Florida was moving toward compliance.
Tea Party attorney KrisAnne Hall confronted Gaetz in-person and later via e-mail, arguing that his push toward implementing the law in Florida amounted to ignorance of the Constitution.
Gaetz rebuffed to the note, replying with: "I have sworn an oath on my father’s Bible before Almighty God to preserve, protect and defend the constitution [sic] and government of the United States. And that’s exactly what I intend to do."
But Gaetz is no supporter of Obamacare. In the same email to Hall, he called the law an "extraordinarily bad" and "wrong-headed" policy.
He also told U.S. Health Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that Florida would not and could not implement state-run health insurance exchanges by the law's 2014 rollout, noting that "the state lacks sufficient information to fully evaluate the potential impact of choosing one exchange model" in time.