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State rep "encouraged" by Obamacare enrollment figures

Republicans blasted the Obama Administration on Wednesday for what they called abysmally low enrollment in the new health insurance marketplace. (In Florida, about 3,500 people had selected a plan.)

But on Thursday, state Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, called the figures “encouraging.”

The numbers “[demonstrated] that people across the country, and in Florida specifically, are hungry for the opportunity to have affordable, comprehensive coverage,” Jones said on a conference call hosted by the pro-Obamacare group Americans United for Change.

Jones said she had spoken with Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, about the enrollment figures, as well as the number of Floridians who tried to enroll and were deemed eligible for Medicaid. But she wasn’t hopeful that Medicaid expansion would be put back on the table after being blocked by House Republicans earlier this year.

“Speaker Weatherford still believes he made the right decision in not [expanding Medicaid],” Jones said. “That’s what he spoke about yesterday. The Senate president went on to say that he thinks that maybe the speaker was correct.”

Still, Jones said she would continue to push the issue during the 2014 session.

“I’m committed to carrying this to the end, and my hope is that the end will be Floridians getting comment,” she said.

Jones was joined on the call by Daniel McNaughton, a college student from Orlando who had signed up for a Florida Blue plan on Oct. 2.

“From start to finish, it took me a little over an hour to sign up for an account, go through all of the questions and chose a plan,” McNaughton said, adding that he had more than 100 options to choose from.

McNaughton said he chose a comprehensive plan that costs $70 per month. His previous plan covered only medical catastrophes, but cost the same amount.

“It was so easy," he said.