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Wednesday August 20th 2014

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Floridians Have Access to Health Exchange Despite State Actions

By Stephanie Carroll Carson, Florida News Connection

On Tuesday, almost 3 million Floridians will be eligible for health coverage under the insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act, but a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the state is “doing everything it can to make it harder for Floridians to access the coverage they need.”

Although Florida chose not to create its own exchange, Melanie Hall, executive director, Family Health Care Foundation, Tampa, said federal programs are available.

“Florida is part of the federally facilitated exchange, so we are working very directly with federal resources that we can then turn around and offer to our local communities,” Hall said.

Earlier this month, Florida health officials banned counselors trained to help people sign up for health insurance from conducting outreach on their property. The state also turned down $50 billion in federal money to expand Medicaid because of concerns that the federal dollars would fall through later on. The federal government is paying 100-percent of the cost through 2016 and 90 percent after that.

Hall says it’s important to remember there are a variety of programs available to Floridians in need of health care and you don’t need to be low-income to qualify.

“It really is very much a middle-income subsidized program that makes folks eligible to be able to purchase discounted products through the health-insurance marketplace,” Hall explained.

A family of four making up to $97,000 a year would qualify for federal tax credits to help supplement the cost of insurance, she added.

More information is available at www.healthcare.gov.