Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said today Obama Care is not now in effect in Florida in light of a Pensacola judge’s ruling Monday the act is unconstitutional and he is temporarily suspending an application for a waiver/adjustment from new health insurance medical loss ratios. “We are going to take stock and see what our options are,” he said during a meeting of the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board (FHIAB).

The new MLR requirements for individual, small group and large group plans taking effect in January and other provisions in Obama Care are not constitutional in Florida following after U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson’s decision, Deputy Insurance Commissioner Mary Beth Senkewicz stated. She added this would change if the White House appeals the decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal and secures a stay of the Pensacola court’s ruling. The MLR provision "does not exist" until and unless the Vinson decision is stayed and overturned.

Governor Rick Scott “has no interest” in implementing the federal act while its  constitutionality is being questioned, McCarty noted. He did seem to indicate that the MLR waiver/adjustment application would still go forward if the Vinson ruling is stayed.

McCarty also reported that he had notified the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services earlier today Florida would not be using a $1 million  Health Insurance Premium Review grant it had been allocated.

The Pensacola court’s ruling and its impact on implementation of Obama Care occupied much of a FHIAB  meeting this afternoon. McCarty said the advisory board would be reconvened once the dust settles for its input on the medical loss ratio issue. The board has already recommended that Florida seek a waiver and adjustment in the MLR standards - 80 percent for individual and small group and 85 percent for large group - and McCarty reported last week the application with HHS would be filed soon.

“We are evaluating the court’s decision,’ McCarty said. “We are taking an opportunity to meet with our lawyers and determine what course of action we can and should pursue…We will get back to the board for further determination on how to go forward.” The commissioner said he would be seeking input from health insurers, consumer groups and the Financial Services Commission.

McCarty was responding to a request from FIC Chair Harry Spring of Humana for clarification on the status of the MLR waiver application. Spring, from Tallahassee, serves on the FHIAB.

While it may not be clear that Judge Vinson’s ruling invalidated the federal act for the entire country, it clearly had that effect in the Northern District of Florida, which includes Tallahassee and the offices of Commissioner McCarty, Ms. Senkewicz said.

“As of right now, the law is unconstitutional as it applies to Florida…It could change in the future if they get a stay, but as of right now, the law is unconstitutional.” She said she does expect the white House “to file an appeal and seek a stay and continue planning implementation.”

Governor Scott, during a pre-Cabinet press availability this morning, said he “has no interest in pursuing any implementation of this law” until the question of its constitutionality is settled, McCarty said. Florida should not take any implementation steps “until the dust has settled,” McCarty relayed as the Scott position.

McCarty said he notified Jay Angoff, HHS Director of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, today Florida would not be spending any of the $1 million it had been allocated for stronger oversight of health insurance rates. He noted that he had concerns about possible inappropriate federal interference with Connecticut in implementation of the exchanges and “yesterday’s decision just made it a cinch.”

“The money has not been transferred to Tallahassee. I sent a letter to Jay Angoff today advising him we would not be drawing down any of the money,” he said.

Health News Florida, an Internet reporting service, said today it is unclear if another Florida agency, the Agency for Health Care Administration, will apply for a federal grant available to prepare to create health insurance exchanges.