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Report: Bill would cover 3M in FL

7/21/2009 © Health News Florida

A consumer group that favors the House version of health reform says it would expand coverage to 1.8 million Floridians in its first year, 2013, and would cover nearly 3 million Floridians by the year 2019.

The report, called "Coverage for America: We All Stand to Gain," was released Tuesday by Families USA, a non-profit consumer advocacy group in Washington, D.C. 

The group says in the report that it used estimates of coverage from the Congressional Budget Office, apportioning them to each state based on the most recent Census Bureau estimates of the number of uninsured, from 2007.

While every state would see an increase in coverage, the report says, the states that would gain the most by the time the plan had been in place five full years are:

--California, 5.3 million.
--Texas, 4.6 million.
--Florida, just under 3 million.
--New York, 2.1 million.
--Illinois, 1.4 million.

Georgia, North Carolina and New Jersey would also see more than 1 million residents gain access to health coverage, the group calculates.

The House bill, "America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009," has been debated in at least three committees but is still undergoing changes, even as the Senate develops its own bill. The House bill would require insurers to accept all applicants, including those who have been sick;  create a health-care marketplace called an "exchange," where consumers could buy coverage; offer subsidies to families that cannot afford policies on their own; and expand Medicaid to some low-income persons who are not now recipients.

Nurses and doctor groups support the bill. However, insurance and business groups have opposed the House bill because it includes a public plan as a competitor with the private insurers, a surtax on millionaire couples and a requirement that companies cover their workers or pay a fee.