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House pitches ‘Health Choices Plus’ alternative to Medicaid expansion, rejects federal aid

As expected, the Florida House will unveil a new insurance program today for low-income Floridians that allows them to select bare-bones coverage options on a state-based health exchange. The setup is similar to the plan pitched by Sen. Aaron Bean, but on a larger scale.

“Bean Plan Plus” is what the architect of the House plan, Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, calls it.

The House plan is limited to disabled adults and parents, allowing them to purchase insurance using a state-based health marketplace with a rocky history. Most of the plans would provide low-cost preventative and primary care visits, subsidized by state funds.

Among the highlights of Health Choices Plus:

  • -The state would give each participant $2,000 each year to help them purchase coverage options
  • -Enrollees would also pay $25 a month in premiums
  • -Adults without disabilities will be required to work at least 20 hours a week

According to the proposed bill and an explainer booklet, which the Times/Herald has obtained exclusively, the cost to state would rise to $266 million as the program grows to 130,000 participants over the next 10 years. For the upcoming fiscal year, the estimated cost is $14 million because the program isn’t slated to launch until April.

Because not all low-income Floridians are eligible under the House plan and because it doesn’t adhere to federal Medicaid standards, the state would not be eligible for roughly $55 billion in federal dollars. Bean’s plan also isn’t eligible for federal funds.

A separate proposal by Sen. Joe Negron would qualify for federal dollars. The Senate has held off on debating either of its proposals, choosing to wait for the House to release its plan. On Monday, the House committee studying the health care law will take up Corcoran’s proposal as a proposed committee bill.

Both the Corcoran and Bean plans expand the mission of Florida Health Choices, the state’s insurance exchange that pre-dates the federal health care law. Right now, only small businesses can sign up for insurance through Health Choices.

The House plan would cover about 16 percent of uninsured, low-income Floridians. Another 31 percent would be eligible to purchased subsidized insurance on federal health exchanges.

The House has created a nearly 50-page presentation that not only details its proposal but why the House is rejecting the federal money.

Read the House proposal here.