The Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to introduce SPB 7038, Sen. Negron’s proposal for providing health care coverage to individuals who fall below 138% of the federal poverty level but do not qualify for Medicaid, as a committee bill.   The bill would create the Healthy Florida program, managed by the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation (FHKC), through which uninsured individuals could access subsidized private health insurance plans.  The FHKC would establish a baseline benefits package that is actuarially equivalent to the Florida Kidcare benchmark plan, and both individual and family plans would be available.  Eligible individuals would be able to choose between at least two plans, and would have a ninety day period after enrolling in any plan to determine whether or not to remain in that plan.  Plans could be changed annually.  Additionally, all enrollees would be required to contribute towards the coverage premiums at varying levels based on income.  All plans would be required to provide health savings accounts that would reward enrollees for healthy behaviors, and individuals could use the account funds for the require premium cost-sharing or to purchase certain non-covered over-the-counter items.  Plans would also have to meet an 85 percent medical loss ratio, meaning that 85 percent of premiums would be required to go towards actual health care and services rather than administrative costs.

Healthy Florida would be funded by the federal dollars originally intended to go towards Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  The bill directs AHCA to seek a state plan amendment or other appropriate approval from the federal government in order to implement the program.  Under the bill, the state would submit its proposal to the federal government for approval by June 14, with enrollment to begin in October 2013 and coverage taking effect as early as January 2014.  A provision in the bill also calls for the program to automatically expire whenever the federal government’s financial contribution falls below the level promised in the ACA.

Language in the SPB would modify the existing thirteen-member FHKC Board of Directors, which is currently chaired by the CFO and has twelve members representing various agencies and interest groups, to have the Governor appoint the chair and all members.  During the discussion, Sen. Negron stated that he was amenable to Sen. Sobel’s suggestion to amend the language to have the House and Senate each have four appointments to the Board, instead of granting all appointment power to the Governor.

Sen. Bean planned to outline a Medicaid expansion alternative on Wednesday during Senate Health Policy, but the committee ran out of time.  He supported Sen. Negron’s proposal, but will continue to work on his plan, which would not rely on federal dollars for funding.  Both Senators praised each other for their respective ideas.  The House has not yet unveiled a similar proposal, but is expected to put forth an idea that will not use federal money within the next few weeks.  Read more on health and human services bills…


Disposition of Human Remains
HB 171 (R. Rooney)/SB 370 (S. Sachs)

  • Summary:
  • Clarifies and updates the statutes relating to unclaimed and indigent burials
  • Provides that counties may adopt policies and procedures for the final disposition of unclaimed human remains
  • Authorizes counties to make final disposition of unclaimed human remains under certain circumstances
  • New language (from last year): allows certain veterans organizations to assist with recovery and interment of unclaimed cremated remains of veterans
    • Status: HB 171 passed the full House unanimously.  SB 370 passed its second committee, Senate Health Policy, unanimously, and has two remaining stops. 

Smoking Preemption/Clean Indoor Air Act
HB 439 (R. Hagar)/SB 258 (S. Bradley)

  • Summary:
  • Currently, sec. 386.209, F.S. preempts the regulation of smoking to the state, except that school districts can further restrict smoking on school district property.
  • Bills would remove counties and cities from the preemption, allowing them to further restrict smoking on certain county or municipal outdoor property if they choose do to so by local ordinance. 
    • Status:
    • SB 258 passed unanimously in Senate Regulated Industries, amended to specify the locations where local governments can restrict smoking as well as the processes for enforcing local smoking ordinances. Additionally, non-smoking areas would have to be clearly defined, and designated smoking areas would be required.
    • SB 258 passed 6-3 in Senate Health Policy.  The bill allows a city or county to require, as a condition for a lease on property that it owns or controls, that smoking be prohibited on the property; however, it was amended in Senate Health Policy to provide that such a restriction may not apply to a pre-existing lease, including a lease renewal, without the lessee’s consent.
    • HB 439 has not yet been heard in its first committee of reference, Health Quality Subcommittee.

County Contributions to Medicaid Program
SB 1244 (S. Soto)/HB 1117 (R. Wood)

  • Summary: Creates study group to evaluate percentage of funds that counties are required to contribute to Medicaid program & provide recommendations to Governor/Legislature.
  • Status: 4 committee referrals in Senate; 3 in House; currently in Health & Human Services Appropriations


SPB 7038 – Relating to Health Care

  • Summary: Creates “Healthy Florida” within the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, to provide individuals who fall below 138% of the federal poverty level with access to subsidized private health insurance. 
    • The plan is an alternative to Medicaid expansion pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, but relies on the same federal dollars for funding.  Federal approval would be required in order for the state to gain access to these funds.
    • Enrollees would be offered choices of plans, which would be required to cover certain services and provide health savings accounts. Enrollees would have to meet certain cost-sharing requirements based on their income, which could be as low as $3 or $4 co-pays.
    • Plans would be required to meet an 85 percent medical loss ratio.
  • Status: The Senate Appropriations Committee moved to introduce SPB 7038 as a committee bill.  The bill will now be referred to additional committees of reference at the Senate President’s discretion.