The land’s highest court dealt Obamacare supporters some good news on Thursday. Now millions of people, including about 24,000 in the Big Bend, can continue getting subsidized health care.
The Supreme Court decision in the case of King v. Burwell resulted in a range of reactions here in Tallahassee, the battleground of the 2015 session where legislators nearly came to blows over whether to extend Medicaid to thousands of Florida patients.
“Unfortunately, more than 800,000 of our friends and neighbors still fall into the coverage gap, making too much to enroll in traditional Medicaid and too little to qualify for a subsidy on the federal exchange,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner, who led the Senate’s efforts to create its own state insurance exchange program that failed this session. “With today’s ruling behind us, it is my hope we can continue to work with our colleagues in the House and with Governor Scott to craft a compromise plan to expand access to health care coverage and services for low-income working Floridians across our state.”
Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, piled on and lambasted the governor and House Republicans for taking a hard line against health-care expansion.
“I’m especially happy with the court’s ruling because, if the outcome would have been different, Republican leadership in Florida — particularly Gov. Rick Scott — had done nothing to prepare for such an outcome. Even though that negligence is fact, I’m glad it won’t harm anyone.”
About 1.3 million Floridians rely on the tax credits, which average about $294 in the Sunshine State. In Tallahassee and central Leon County, eligible enrollees grew from 12 percent in 2014 to 21 percent in 2015, a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found. Outer Leon County rose from 26 percent to 44 percent.
“We support efforts that improve access by providing affordable coverage for the uninsured,” said a statement issued by the Hospital Corporation of America.
Florida’s Republican presidential contenders Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush both issued statements against the ruling.
“Americans have been sold a lie, and as the policy continues its roll out, individuals, families, business owners, and insurers will learn the painful truth,” said Dr. Bob McClure, president and CEO of the right-leaning James Madison Institute. “The country’s health-care challenges, which have taken generations to evolve, cannot be fixed by the federal government with a single silver bullet in the form of Obamacare.”
USA Today reporter Ledyard King contributed to this article.