With continued legal and political battles about the federal Affordable Care Act, a Florida Senate committee Tuesday approved a bill that seeks to ensure patients with preexisting conditions would have access to health coverage. The bill (SB 322), filed by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, would create a contingency in case the Affordable Care Act is struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court or is repealed by Congress.
In such a circumstance, the bill would require each health insurer in Florida to offer at least one major-medical insurance policy that could not limit or deny coverage based on patients’ preexisting conditions. Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have faced criticism, in part, because of concerns that people with preexisting conditions would not be able to find affordable coverage. The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Tuesday approved Simpson’s bill in a 6-1 vote, with Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, dissenting.
Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, voted for the bill but questioned the costs of coverage if the requirement ever takes effect. “What about the prices, because that’s the big issue is that if you have a preexisting condition, the prices (in the past) were too high for you to be able to afford it,” Taddeo said. Simpson said the bill did not address how the coverage would be priced. “This bill was not to try to put all the rules in place of engagement but more or less guarantee Floridians that there would be a product available for them to purchase if that time did come,” Simpson said.