Florida lawmakers are working to expand access for people who have been uninsured for years to the state’s health insurance marketplaces, which are set to open in mid-April.
The House and Senate are currently working to make the legislation law.
The bill would allow people who live in counties with a population of less than 100,000 people to purchase health insurance on the exchange, which would be limited to residents with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, according to the Florida Department of Health.
In addition, the bill would extend the same eligibility to people with incomes over 133 percent to a maximum of $3,600 per year.
The House bill would also extend coverage to people who are in the country illegally and have a household income of $50,000 or less.
The Senate bill would give them more limited coverage, but would not extend it to anyone who is not in the United States illegally.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R) and Senate President Joe Negron (R), who is a Republican, said they had been working on the bill for months, but needed the Senate to sign off on it because it’s important to the entire health care system.
“We wanted to ensure that we could pass this legislation because it is critically important to ensuring that we have the health care for our people,” Negron said.
House Democratic Leader Mike Feeney (D-Fla.) praised the bill and said it would help people with pre-existing conditions.
“Florida deserves a health care plan that is not a one-size-fits-all,” Feeneysaid in a statement.
“The Florida Senate is committed to providing Americans with affordable health insurance.”
House Republicans also passed the Senate’s version of the bill, but not without some criticism.
“While it is an important step toward ending the disastrous and burdensome federal Obamacare mandate, it is not enough to fully reform Florida’s dysfunctional health care exchange,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said in a prepared statement.