Florida Governor Under Fire for Limiting HMO Choices for State Workers

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has come under fire recently for limiting state workers to one health maintenance organization for each county starting in Jan. 2012, according to a Miami Herald report.

Gov. Scott said in July that the new state contract would save Florida approximately $400 million over the next few years. The state is expected to spend $2 billion on state worker health insurance in 2011 alone.

However, three HMOs have pushed back against the new contracts, asking an administrative judge in Tallahassee to reject them because the state allegedly miscalculated potential savings. UnitedHealthcare of Florida contends in legal filings that the state's decision will actually cost Florida $500 million more because its HMO has better discounts with physicians and clinics.

The new contract would make UnitedHealthcare's plan available in only 18 counties in Florida.

Kris Purcell, a spokesman for the agency that oversees the state worker health insurance program, said that restricting state workers to just one HMO per county doesn't limit their choices because each HMO is required to provide the same benefits. State workers have the option of enrolling in an HMO or choosing a preferred provider option.

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