January 10 Health Care Report from PIRG

Health Care Repeal Would Have Costly Consequences for Florida Consumers and Small Businesses

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Consumers and small businesses in Florida will face significantly higher insurance premiums and could see costly coverage denials and price discrimination if efforts to repeal the federal health care law prevail in Congress or in the courts, according to The Cost of Repeal: Examining the Impact on Florida of Repealing the New Federal Health Care Law, a new report released today by Florida PIRG.

According to the report, in the short term, repeal would strip tax credits from 246,000 Florida small businesses. And over the longer term, the cost of offering employer-based health insurance could jump by more than $3000 a year over current law.

“The higher health costs that would result from repeal are the last thing that Florida consumers and businesses need, in today’s economy” said Brad Ashwell, Florida PIRG’s Legislative Health Advocate.

The new Florida PIRG report draws on data from independent sources, including the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, other government agencies, business groups and health analysts, and finds the following:

  • Repealing the new state health insurance exchange would drive premiums on the individual market up to 20% higher for the same coverage by 2016.
  • Without the new law’s insurance reforms, the 3,240,000 of Florida residents who have pre-existing conditions, ranging from asthma to cancer, will continue to face coverage denials and price discrimination when purchasing their own insurance.
  • If the insurance reforms are repealed, Florida women will continue to pay higher prices than men for health coverage.
  • Rolling back last year’s law would drive up employer health costs, leading to 17,417 fewer jobs created per year in Florida by the end of the decade.
  • Outright repeal would pull $20.1 billion in federal Medicaid dollars out of the state’s economy and terminate establishment or expansion of 372 community health centers across Florida.

The House is expected to consider a repeal bill later this month. And Washington’s intensely partisan debate over health care threatens to spill over to Tallahassee, as the Governor and state legislators consider key implementation decisions.  While former State Attorney General, Bill McCollum, is leading a federal lawsuit urging the roll back of the law,  Florida’s new Governor, House Speaker, Dean Cannon, and Senate President, Mike Haridopolos, have all signaled that they will avoid compliance with the new law wherever possible.

The Cost of Repeal recommends a set of pro-active policy changes on which supporters and opponents of last year’s health care law should be able to find common ground.  These include:

  1. Using the substantial authority the state has under current law to design a health insurance exchange that is adapted to meet the needs of our state’s markets, consumers, and businesses.
  2. Taking additional steps to contain health care costs, like using information technology to ensure that doctors receive the latest research about which treatments are most effective – at the patient’s bedside.
  3. Crack down on balance-billing, a practice whereby hospitals or providers accept payment from a patient’s insurance plan, then charge additional amounts-above and beyond the usual co-pays and cost sharing.

“Before our elected officials join this headlong rush to repeal in Washington, or to undermine this law at the state level, they should consider the consequences for Florida, and look for solutions that hold down costs, not increase them,” said Ashwell.

Source:Florida PIRG, The Florida Public Interest Research Groups, is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization. For more information, visit www.floridapirg.org.

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