Florida Leads Obamacare Enrollment

By Gray Rohrer, The Orlando Sentinel

Nearly 944,000 people signed up for health care through federal exchanges during the latest enrollment period, which ran from Feb. 23 to June 30, with the largest number coming from Florida, according to data released Friday by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sunshine State residents accounted for 17 percent of enrollees, or 160,828 in total. The second-highest was Texas with 131,757. Overall, 37 states rely on federal exchanges instead of setting up their own. Other large states like California and New York have their own exchanges.

The reasons for enrollment vary, but 78,611 enrollees – nearly half of Florida’s total – signed up because they lost their health care coverage. Another 30,064 enrolled due to tax season (going without health coverage carries tax penalties stemming from the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare). And 24,188 people opted for health coverage through the exchange because they were denied Medicaid.

The federal exchanges survived a legal challenge earlier this summer when the U.S. Supreme Court declared the subsidies for plans on the exchanges were valid under Obamacare.

Florida lawmakers fought out their own battle over Obamacare this year, with House Republicans refusing to go along with Senate Republicans’ plan to use federal Medicaid funds to expand health coverage to more people, despite new work and co-pay requirements.