Florida Republicans Spend Nearly $1 Million On Obamacare Alternative And Nobody Signs Up

Florida Republicans were eager to dispel the suggestion that conservatives have no practical alternative to Obamacare, and will be screwing millions of people out of health insurance should their incessant efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act actually come to fruition. So, to prove everybody wrong, the state’s Republican lawmakers designed a rival marketplace that they hoped would dissuade people from seeking insurance on the federal (read: Socialist Obama) exchange. Spoiler: It’s a massive failure.

The Republican-dominated Florida legislature has been adamant in refusing to work with the new healthcare laws or even expand Medicaid. The partisan fight has prevented an estimated 750,000 Floridians from receiving health insurance, despite the new law. That’s too bad, because other conservative states that swallowed their pride and began working with the ACA have seen massive cuts in their uninsured rates (go figure!) and overwhelming satisfaction from the people who now receive care under the healthcare reforms (again… go figure).

To prove that they weren’t heartless, just ideologically stubborn, Republicans, led by Sen. Marco Rubio, plopped down over $800,000 to design and implement their own health insurance marketplace. The alternative isn’t meant to mirror the ACA, but provide a conservative-based model. This means that much of what people would consider essential to any effective health insurance plan (e.g., covering the cost of hospital stays, limiting out-of-pocket expenses for pricey surgeries, etc.) aren’t included. Those would be hand outs, and the road to Stalinism is paved with handouts. Instead, the “insurance” consists of what amounts to coupons offering discounts for things like prescriptions and eyeglasses.

If coupons for eyeglasses doesn’t sound like enough temptation to get people to abandon comprehensive health insurance under Obamacare, you’d be right. Six months after the launch of the program, called Florida Health Choices, and the Tampa Bay Times reported in August that just 30 people had signed up. (In fairness, they said another seven individuals had initially signed up but later cancelled.) By the end of the year, that number swelled… to 49.

The offerings on the Florida Health Choices exchange are so awful that almost none of the 764,000 Floridians who have been blocked from getting health insurance by Florida Republicans have taken the bait, either. They’d rather have nothing than the insulting crumbs thrown at them by conservative lawmakers.

As with every conservative shortcoming recently, Republicans were quick to blame liberals for the failures of their policies:

The plan’s biggest backer in the Legislature blames the lack of business on the federal Affordable Care Act, which features comprehensive plans with varying subsidies for those who qualify.

“Obviously we wanted more (business), but the competition is giving it away for free,” said state Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach.

In other words, the “competition” was out-competing them by offering a more effective business model. The proof is in the hard numbers. Despite the roadblocks set up by Republicans, Florida signed up a truly staggering 1.6 million people for healthcare under the ACA during the 2015 open enrollment. It’s the highest number in any state in the nation. And by a great deal. If you are one of the 49 people who signed up for Marco Rubio’s alternative, you may want to head over to healthcare.gov as soon as possible. You backed the wrong horse.

H/T: Wonkette | Feature image via Know Your Meme