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Fed official says state health exchanges are ready, yet Florida still delaying implementation

Donald Berwick, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told reporters yesterday that the agency has the funds necessary to move forward with the Obama administration’s plans to create state health care insurance exchanges throughout the country. However, Florida remains one of five states that has not made any effort to take part in the reform.

Modern Healthcare reports that the federal government is making good time in implementing the state health care insurance exchanges through the Affordable Care Act:

“We have every intention of running the exchanges on time and helping states do the same,” Berwick said following his remarks at the America’s Health Insurance Plans conference on Medicare and Medicaid, which runs through Sept. 15. “There will be federal exchanges, of course. Some states will choose that as a better way for them,” he added. We don’t know how many.” When pressed for whether the CMS has the funding required to establish these insurance marketplaces, Berwick said: “Step by step, we have the money we need now to take the next steps.”

The state of Florida is has currently made no effort to implement the policies necessary for the exchanges.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that “Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire and Oklahoma reportedly will return exchange Planning and/or Early Innovator grant funds” awarded by the Affordable Care Act.

The state Legislature has not accepted various grants since the Affordable Care Act’s passage. Its reasoning has been that the state is currently in litigation with the federal government over the constitutionality of health care reform.

Even though there are no plans to implement the exchanges in Florida, the Legislature passed a law this year that prohibits insurance coverage of abortion in state exchanges created through the Affordable Care Act.

The law was the result of a provision in last year’s health care reform law that allows states to ban the coverage of abortion in the exchanges the law creates, the result of Bart Stupak’s failed attempt to stall the legislation in an effort to include an all-out ban on abortion coverage in any of the exchanges the law creates. Florida’s law provides exceptions for cases of rape and incest and when a woman’s life is in danger. However, efforts to also include an exception for a woman who faces a “serious risk to her health” failed right before the bill received its final vote. The provision received bipartisan support.

Many other states that are also fighting the health care reform law have accepted the funds for implementation of the state exchanges.

The state of Florida currently has the second highest rate of people without insurance in the country.

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