The Florida Department and its insurance carriers, which cover about 30 million people, have been forced to scrap plans that offered no coverage of the Affordable Care Act or even a link to the federal government.
The move by the state’s two insurers, UnitedHealth Group Inc and CareFirst Medical Care Inc, will force millions of people who buy their insurance on the exchanges to abandon the program, which was designed to provide coverage for the uninsured.
The move has been widely anticipated, but it is the first time the Florida department has scaled back the health care program, where the state has the nation’s largest uninsured population.
The department is offering coverage to about 17 million people on the individual market, the state health department said in a statement.
The department will now offer coverage through its state exchange for people who have no health insurance and cannot afford it.
The state said it plans to continue providing coverage for those who qualify, although the number of people expected to sign-up for the insurance has shrunk to about 20,000 people.
“Today’s decision is an important step toward making the Florida program more attractive to all Floridians,” said Department Administrator Richard Beddington.
The state said in an email to clients that the department will provide new rates for people buying coverage through the exchange.
But it added that customers who did not qualify for an exchange rate prior to today will continue to be charged the current rate for the next two years.
The federal government pays about 80 percent of the costs of Medicaid for the elderly and people with disabilities, with the remainder funded by the states.
The federal government’s Medicaid waiver was first implemented in 2010.
The states have been running out of money for the exchange for more than a year, as the federal governments enrollment has surged and states have struggled to keep pace.
Some states are spending more on their Medicaid programs than the federal Government pays for them, with some saying they can no longer afford to operate as well.
In a letter last week, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services warned that the current shortfall of about $700 billion over the next decade is putting Florida’s Medicaid programs at risk.
The letter said Florida is on track to have its Medicaid enrollment drop to below 2 million people in 2022 and will have to find additional savings in its existing budget to stay on track.
The Florida health department has spent billions of dollars on outreach and advertising, and has also spent millions of dollars to promote its own programs.
The states Medicaid program has a $1.2 billion annual budget and covers about 11 million people.
The program is a cornerstone of President Donald Trump’s signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Health Care Act, and the state is trying to protect that signature law.
The decision to cancel the exchange was a shock to the state, said Kathleen O’Connell, president of the Florida State University College of Medicine.
She noted that the state had spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars on advertising and outreach to inform its enrollees.
The cancellation follows a state budget that was approved by the Florida legislature in June.
The bill included a provision that would have made the state offer more affordable health coverage, including plans that did not include the Affordable Clean Energy Act, which would have required insurers to cover renewable energy, but did not address the issue of high costs.
O’Connell said the plan was never part of the budget passed by the legislature and did not come from the president.
“It was a policy decision that was never made,” she said.