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Crist health plan passes Senate

Gov. Charlie Crist’s affordable health-insurance plan just unanimously sailed through the Florida Senate with no debate.

The plan lifts state mandates requiring insurers offer a wide benefit package so they can offer stripped-down plans that could cost the insured as little as $150 a month, as opposed to current premiums that can exceed $600.

Under Crist’s plan, insurers would negotiate with the state and offer two types of plans: One with catastrophic coverage and one without. Insurers can cap services, limit coverage, require co-pays and offer prescription drug coverage.

With 20.2 percent of its population uninsured, Florida has the third-highest rate in the nation. Nearly 3.7 million people lack insurance in Florida, 22 percent of whom are 18 and under. About 43 percent of people aged 18 to 34 are uninsured.

The Florida House has borrowed portions of the plan and proposed its own variant that is modeled on the KidCare public-private health management system. Crist and his office aren’t big fans, so Crist is touring the state and talking about his plan at every stop to create pressure.

Except he doesn’t call it pressure. “It’s encouragement,” Crist said.