If a bill passed Friday by the Florida House of Representatives becomes law, state employees, including multimillionaire Gov. Rick Scott, would continue paying prices as low as $8.34 per month for individual health insurance or $30 for their families. Although the House voted in favor of a proposal to continue these deeply discounted prices, the Senate does not appear poised to pass the bill, the Associated Press reported Friday.
In parallel, the Florida legislature in early June soundly rejected a proposal to expand Medicaid so that up to 800,000 low-income Floridians could gain access to health insurance. The Florida House and Senate have 160 members, 54 of whom are millionaires, the Miami Herald has reported. For health insurance, 145 are enrolled in the taxpayer-funded insurance plan State Group Health, where premiums cost $180 a month for a family or $50 a month for an individual.
This coverage, which includes physician care, hospital visits and care, prescription drugs and several other services, is valued at $22,000 a year per lawmaker. Or viewed another way, it costs taxpayers $1 million per month, the Miami Herald found. Although Gov. Scott has been proposing since 2011 that legislators pay more for their healthcare coverage, lawmakers never accepted these changes.
Yet the governor and his cohorts pay even less – the $8 or $30 a month previously mentioned. Lawmakers previously paid those rates as well, until their share of the premiums were raised in 2012. By contrast, the average monthly premium for a family in Florida costs $1,347, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Three Florida senators and 12 members of the house have refused to accept the heavily subsidized health insurance. Several are veterans who are covered by the federal government. A few others protest on principle.
“When I saw how cheap it was, I said that’s not right,’’ said Rep. Larry Lee, a Democrat and insurance agent from Fort Pierce who pays for healthcare through his employer. “I didn’t feel good about taking the money, knowing there are people out there who could use it,” he said.
Lee has sworn not to accept the subsidized insurance to which Florida legislators are entitled until the House passes a measure to cover uninsured Floridians.