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FL dragged its feet, now wants more time

Florida has pouted and sulked and dragged its feet on the Affordable Care Act for two years. Now that the law's full implementation in 2014 appears inevitable, our state's elected officials are at least willing to talk about it.

Gov. Rick Scott has asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for a meeting to talk about a "partnership"-style health exchange. He asked for the meeting at the earliest opportunity.

But legislative leaders say there's no need to rush: No decisions can be made until they weigh in, and that won't happen until the session, which begins in March.

In the past two legislative sessions the only action on the law was to try to block it. No one envisioned this possibility, so they turned down the money that would have paid to develop the health exchange and other parts of the law.

Scott's post-election change in tone was so profound this week that he made the national news, saying he wants to have a conversation with Health and Human Services officials so that he can change his "just say no" to a "yes."

On Thursday, HHS granted states another month to decide on whether to participate in creating an online shopping market for insurance. But Florida's incoming legislative leaders, Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford,  want a much longer delay.

They say it's unlikely that the federal exchange -- the one that opt-out states will use --can be ready for duty in October, when uninsured people are supposed to be able to shop for coverage to take effect Jan. 1, 2014. No way can Florida be ready, they say.

I'll bet if it were up to the 4 million Floridians who have no health insurance, plus the numerous others who have coverage so bad it should be called "unsurance," they'd say to Florida officials: "You had plenty of time to plan this thing, but you wasted it fighting over politics. Now, get a move on!"

--Health News Florida, journalism for a healthy state, is a service of WUSF Public Media. Question? Comment? Contact Carol Gentry at 813-974-8629 or

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.