A Coral Gables-based health insurance company and dozens of its employees are the latest casualties of a Republican-led legislative gambit in 2014 to undermine the Affordable Care Act — a maneuver for which presidential hopeful and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has taken credit on the campaign trail.
Preferred Medical Plan filed notice on Wednesday that the private insurance company intends to lay off 162 employees in February, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
The company will remain in business, said James Card, a spokesman. But Preferred Medical will cover a much smaller number of Floridians — in large part because of a significant reduction in payments that the company expected to receive under the health law.
“Preferred Medical was prohibited from participating on the 2016 [ACA] exchange,” Card said in a written statement.
The reason: the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS could not pay the health insurer what was promised in 2010 under the so-called Risk Corridor program, a risk-sharing arrangement that Rubio calls a taxpayer “bailout” of insurance companies.
Following Wednesday’s release of an appropriations bill that includes a measure to once again restrict payments to insurers in 2016, Rubio issued a press release that read, in part: “ObamaCare’s bailout provision has nothing to do with helping people access health insurance, but it has everything to do with how big businesses in this country game big government to increase their profits, and how big government games big businesses to increase government’s reach into our lives.”