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Insurance commissioner returns $1 million health care grant

In the wake of U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson's ruling that the federal health care legislation is unconstitutional, Florida insurance commissioner Kevin McCarty returned a $1 million federal grant awarded to the state to assist with reforms. The money would have paid for a system to provide information to consumers on the rates of large-group insurers.

"The purpose of this letter is to inform you that after deliberate consideration, I hereby rescind the acceptance of the above-referenced $1 million rate review grant, which occurred in a letter to you dated September 15, 2010. No drawdown of any of the $1 million will occur," McCarty wrote in a letter to the director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Consumer Information and Oversight.

The state already reviews rates for individual and small group policies. But Florida lawmakers need to file legislation to match state law to the federal health care provisions and expand the review to large group rates, a spokesomwan for McCarty said in an e-mail. That wasn't likely to happen before Vinson's ruling, and it's certainly not likely to happen now. "If the Florida Legislature does not expand this authority, the grant monies used to hire staff and overhaul systems to implement these legal changes would not be necessary," McCarty's spokeswoman said.