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Hard Sell For Obamacare In Florida, Despite Big Market
National Public Radio / Kaiser Health News ^ | December 10, 2013 | Eric Whitney

Posted on 12/10/2013 3:06:38 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet

Getting people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act remains an uphill battle in much of Florida.

Politicians in the state erected roadblocks to the law from the beginning — from joining in the 2010 lawsuit to thwart the law to placing restrictions on what insurance helpers called navigators can tell people seeking advice.

Even so, advocates have been trying to get the word out to an estimated 1.6 million Floridians who qualify for new subsidies to make coverage more affordable. Florida has the second-highest rate of uninsured residents in the U.S., yet it seems many who could benefit the most aren't interested in listening.

The message will be hardest to get across, many say, in the Florida Panhandle, where sandy white beaches on the Gulf Coast back up to vast pine forests. Towns are small and scattered. The area is closer both politically and geographically to neighboring Georgia and Alabama than faraway Miami.

At local events like the recent Florida Forest Festival and the self-proclaimed World's Largest Free Fish Fry in Perry, it's not hard to find people like Elijah Mott, an itinerant heavy equipment operator who says he doesn't know much about the health care law, and that most of what he's heard is bad.

"I think it sucks," he says.

The median household income in this county is about $40,000 a year. Lots of jobs here don't come with health insurance. That means many here like Mott, who doesn't have steady work at the moment, probably qualify for subsidies to help them afford coverage.

But Mott isn't buying the idea that the health law could possibly be good for his family. "I would have to say no," Mott says, "I haven't investigated deep enough to know if there is anything."

Mott and 41-year-old Michael Dees of Mayo, who works in a paper mill, have mostly heard that Obamacare is going to increase the price of health insurance, making it more unaffordable for people like them.

Dees says he expects to be laid off soon, and worries about how he's going to buy coverage for his family.

"Who can afford $700 a month?" he asks. "It's easier to pay for the damn penalty at the end of the year the IRS is going to charge you than pay $500 a month."

Dees says it's news to him that the health law offers people making less than $45,960 a year help paying monthly premiums.

"I really hadn't heard about the subsidy," he says.

Guys like Dees and Mott are exactly who health law advocates like Karen Woodall are trying to reach. A longtime lobbyist for children's and family issues in Florida's capital, Tallahassee, she says it's tough to convince people here that the law might help them.

"It's challenging to overcome messages that are coming out of elected officials' offices and a governor's office," she says.

Florida said no to both the law's Medicaid expansion, and to tens of millions of dollars to advertise new subsidies for those with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level

Privately funded groups like Enroll America are trying to supply the outreach and education in Florida. That includes partnering with churches like the Sanctuary at Mt. Calvary in urban Jacksonville, on Florida's Atlantic coast about three hours east of Perry.

Pastor John Allen Newman invited Enroll America representatives to address his congregation one recent Sunday. From the pulpit, he warns his flock of several hundred against misinformation he says opponents of the law are spreading.

"People perish for what?" he asks.

"Lack of knowledge," comes the practiced response.

Newman tells congregants that the law helped him get coverage after a large private insurer turned him down because of a pre-existing condition. "This Affordable Care Act is saving lives," he says.

The message hits home with 23-year-old truck driver Anthony Person. "I never knew what it was before until I started coming to this church," Person says. Pastor Newman, he says, "started explaining it to us the way I could understand it."

Person left his contact information at the Enroll America table in the church's lobby to get help signing up for new Obamacare coverage.

"My job is one that does not have the best benefits, so I need health insurance to cover myself," he says.

And then, there are those who might just fall through the cracks.

Back in the Panhandle, Karen Ray wishes subsidies to help working people afford coverage had been available when she was running her small business out of Delray Beach.

"There hasn't been a realization how many people out there are the working poor," she says, "working hard and not getting health care. And just living paycheck to paycheck and hoping nothing goes wrong."

Things went wrong for Ray in a big way after the BP oil spill in 2010.

"I had a beach wedding business, and it kind of went downhill after the oil spill," she says. "I've just been trying to get back on my feet since then."

Even before the oil spill, her business never generated enough income to provide health insurance, says Ray, 60. She used to get coverage through her husband's job.

"I lost my business, and my marriage and my house, at the same time," she says, laughing wryly.

That's left her uninsured. She knows about the law — and she also knows that because she lives in Florida, she is unlikely to benefit from it.

If Ray lived in one of the 25 states expanding Medicaid, she would qualify for new coverage. But because Florida isn't expanding, being poor alone isn't enough to get Medicaid here. Benefits here are reserved primarily for children, pregnant women and the disabled.

And because Ray has no income, she won't qualify for new Affordable Care Act tax credits designed to help the working poor afford private health coverage.

"I could maybe scrounge up the money to go get a mammogram. What if it comes back positive? What happens to me? It's not like you can show up in the emergency and say, 'Ooh! I have an emergency lump!' That won't happen," says Ray.

"I think a lot of us are gonna fall through the cracks," she says, "and I'm very irate about that, very irate about that."

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: florida; insurance; obamacare; socializedmedicine
This story is part of a partnership with NPR and Kaiser Health News, with support from the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism, a program of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism's California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships.
1 posted on 12/10/2013 3:06:38 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: All
LET US COUNT THE O/CARE FLOPS Puke web site, "keep it" lies, astronomical premiums/deductibles, I-PAB healthcare rationing, narrower doctor pool, drug costs explode, Medicaid time bomb........etc etc etc.

NOW THIS ATROCITY Obamacare provides birth control coverage for two-year olds....but not for certain needed medications. (GAG) The genital-sniffing ghosts of Planned Parenthood and condom queen, Sandra Fluke, lurk everywhere.

PASS THE WORD AMERICA: In Obamacare, every "compassionate Democrat" joined together to give America a "Progressive Police State" fully sheathed and outfitted like pimps and prostitutes.


IMHO, Republicans bring Democrats to their knees w/ just one line: Obamacare is the only socially transformational legislation in modern American history to be enacted on a straight party-line vote.

Obamacre is an unmitigated disaster wholly owned by Democrats.

2 posted on 12/10/2013 3:12:25 PM PST by Liz
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

They stole a trillion through Obamacare from Medicare.

That should go over REAL big with the elders IMO.

3 posted on 12/10/2013 3:12:59 PM PST by A CA Guy ( God Bless America, God Bless and keep safe our fighting men and women.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
probably qualify for subsidies to help them afford coverage.

Yes, but he will get smacked with several thousand in deductibles too.

It's a bad deal.

4 posted on 12/10/2013 3:13:21 PM PST by what's up
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To: All
Vulnerable Dem candidates face an ugly choice: admit incompetence or admit they lied when they parroted Boobamba's "keep it" the words of one Democrat wise man, "That's a big effin' deal."

Sources who attended a meeting of House Democrats' chiefs of staff say the room was seething with anger over the immense damage being done to the Democratic Party (as they scrapped Democrat rollout events for Obama's disintegrating Affordable Care Act).

“Here we are, we’re supposed to be selling this to people, and it’s all screwed up. This either gets fixed or this could be the demise of the Democratic Party."


The end of the Democratic Party?

Mmmmmm.....sounds like good news to me. (Hums "Happy Days Are Here Again")

We should start calling him "Wrong-Way Boobamba." Remember---he "vowed" to destroy the Republican Party----but he ended up destroying the Democrat Party, instead.

Looks like he needs a new GPS system from Santa. ROTFLOL.

5 posted on 12/10/2013 3:13:54 PM PST by Liz
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
...estimated 1.6 million Floridians who qualify for new subsidies...

1.6 million out of nearly 20 million, means "medicade".

6 posted on 12/10/2013 3:14:56 PM PST by Road Warrior 04 (Molon Labe! (Oathkeeper))
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: Bushbacker1

medicade = medicaid

8 posted on 12/10/2013 3:16:36 PM PST by Road Warrior 04 (Molon Labe! (Oathkeeper))
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

It’s going to be interesting to watch the states like FL which rejected the Medicaid expansion boom economically. Meanwhile NY and other states will go down the tubes by paying billions of freebies to subsidize the lower classes.

9 posted on 12/10/2013 3:20:01 PM PST by what's up
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To: Liz

I live near these people. I’ve spent time in the area. They’re hard working - just want an opportunity to do for themselves. I don’t really believe they will be thrilled knowing someone else is having to pay a much higher price, so they can get a subsidized premium! When fully explained to them, they’ll see through the ruse!

10 posted on 12/10/2013 3:21:16 PM PST by REPANDPROUDOFIT (November can't come soon enough!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Shouldn’t that church get its tax-exempt status revoked for partisan political activities?

I know I’m going to send a strongly worded letter to AG Holder. Come on! Who’s with me?!

11 posted on 12/10/2013 3:31:40 PM PST by ziravan (Choose Sides.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I respect those who choose not to accept “subsidies” - other people’s money taken against their will. As for those who are willing to steal, they deserve what they get for visiting with its complete absence of security.

12 posted on 12/10/2013 3:34:01 PM PST by Pollster1 ("Shall not be infringed" is unambiguous.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

A big market of oldsters who can see the Grim Reaper in their very near future at the hands of Obamacare.

13 posted on 12/10/2013 3:35:47 PM PST by riri (Plannedopolis-look it up. It's how the elites plan for US to live.)
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To: riri
Fla's a big oldster market---they can see the Grim Reaper in their very near future at the hands of Obamacare.

JUST ONE EXAMPLE: Sen majority leader, Harry Reid, says enrolling in O/Care costs him about $4,500 more than before. But Harry says that's OK b/c the increase is "age-related.”

(Sniffle) "Tolerant and compassionate" Obama knows that the most expensive h/care is delivered the last three years of oldsters HAVE to pay more (Sob).

Heck, socking Harry w/ a massive increase could even save money. For sure, decrepit Harry will necessitate expensive medical care for diseases of old age including the ones he's being treated for now--- senility, Alzheimer's, dementia, arthritis, osteoarthritis, heart problems, heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, prostate enlargement, osteoporosis (brittle bones)....etc.

Course, just in case ol' Harry hangs in there, Obamacare's IPAB kicks in to ration medical care when stubborn old buzzards like Harry insist on getting more healthcare than his lousy $4500 per month entitles him to.

14 posted on 12/10/2013 3:44:29 PM PST by Liz
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To: Liz

probably qualify for subsidies to help them afford coverage.

Yeah? How much?

Why is it such a big mystery how much you qualify to get?

Plan is X. If your income is Y then you get z.

Pretty dang simple...even the irs does it using tax tables.
But I am betting its an astoundingly small amount and they do not want it widely known.

15 posted on 12/10/2013 3:46:27 PM PST by Adder (No, Mr. Franklin, we could NOT keep it.)
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To: Adder

Oh, don’t worry about Harry’s pricey coverage.

The legend is once they get into Congress, the parasite pols never spend a cent of their own money....they game the system to soak taxpayers for their upkeep.

So taxpayers will end up paying for Harry the Leech’s coverage, doctors, meds, hospital care, etc etc etc.

16 posted on 12/10/2013 3:51:49 PM PST by Liz
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Even if they get some of the bling handed out as "subsidy", if they have a problem they will still have large deductibles to meet.

Most of them will be shocked to find there isn't going to be a "free lunch" even to those who think they are getting a free lunch. Even those on Medicaid will get much poorer care than they do now as the reduced rates kick in and even fewer doctors take them.

The only "answer" is to make the entire medical industry into slave labor. The Kulaks, capitalist wreckers, hooligans and saboteurs won't like it, but the drivers of this disaster figured out long ago how to take care of them!

17 posted on 12/10/2013 4:03:22 PM PST by Gritty (The emperor has hipster garb, but underneath he’s just another Commissar Squaresville - Mark Steyn)
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