Florida health insurance execs push for exchange

Despite a widespread political backlash against healthcare reform in the Sunshine State, Florida's top insurance executives have actively lobbied underwriters to build a statewide insurance exchange, according to Health News Florida.

The fear among the executives is that if Florida does not move toward building its own exchange that will be operational by 2014, the state will be forced to take one operated by the federal government.

"We need to be up there (in Tallahassee) with locked arms--with patients, too--meeting with (state officials)," said T. David Lewis, CEO for UnitedHealthcare of Florida's Central & North Florida Division. If insurers and agents "use our collective wisdom," he said at a forum of health underwriters last week, "we can make an exchange what we want it to be."

However, resistance against implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is fierce. Attorney General Pam Biondi has sued the federal government in the hopes of having the reform law ruled unconstitutional. And Florida's legislative leaders have told state agencies not to take any measures to implement reform. Newly elected governor Rick Scott, a Republican, has also vowed to help repeal the act.

However, the health insurance executives seemed mostly in support of reform. "4.2 million Floridians don't have insurance, and we have got to find a way to help them find coverage," said Jonathan Anderson of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida.

For more:
- read the Health News Florida article
- read the MedPage Today article on Florida and healthcare reform