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Florida Groups Fear Loss of Health Insurance For Many Ahead Of Oral Arguments In Obamacare Lawsuit


Dozens of groups and individuals sent a joint letter to Attorney General Ashley Moody this week, asking her to withdraw Florida from the list of plaintiffs in the California v. Texas lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act. Florida joined the lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act — otherwise known as Obamacare — in 2018, under former Attorney General Pam Bondi. Moody inherited the case.

The 18 states challenging the ACA claim that the fee for not having health insurance is unconstitutional. If the U.S. Supreme Court does strike down the individual mandate, it must also decide if the rest of the law survives.

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"Seems like political theater," said Miriam Harmatz, the executive director of the Florida Health Justice Project, one of the many organizations behind the letter. Others include the Florida Policy Institute, Florida Voices for Health, Catalyst Miami and League of Women Voters of Florida.

"There is a possibility that partial or full repeal would only apply to the plaintiff states. We’re hoping that Attorney General Moody will protect the constituents and residents of the state of Florida," Harmatz said.

People with pre-existing conditions will lose protection, Harmatz added, and it won’t make the health insurance marketplace and its subsidies available for people who qualify, like those who lost their coverage during the pandemic because of losing their work.

Medicare beneficiaries would also be affected as would people who — under the Affordable Care Act — are eligible to stay on their parents' health insurance plans before turning 26 years old.

Nearly 2 million people in Florida bought plans on the Obamacare marketplace, and the majority live in South Florida.

"Our office is party to this litigation and it would not be appropriate to discuss the ongoing proceedings," wrote Lauren Schenone Cassedy, director of public affairs for Moody's office, to WLRN.

"Attorney General Moody has consistently supported the protection of those with pre-existing conditions and has successfully advocated the Florida Legislature to make changes to do so for all Floridians."

In 2019, the Florida Legislature passed a bill, later signed into law, that requires health insurers to not exclude people with previous health problems if the law gets overturned.

Oral arguments before the Supreme Court are scheduled for Nov. 10.

In the meantime, open enrollment for health insurance plans on the federal marketplace plans will continue and the enrollment period starts Sunday.

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Verónica Zaragovia was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up in South Florida. She’s been a lifelong WLRN listener and is proud to cover health care for the station. Verónica has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master's degree in journalism. For many years, Veronica lived out of a suitcase (or two) in New York City, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, D.C., San Antonio and Austin, where she worked as the statehouse and health care reporter with NPR member station KUT.