Rick Scott opens door to working with HHS on insurance exchange

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That doesn't necessarily mean he'll end up at "yes" — Scott, like other high-profile Republican governors, has been outspoken about what he sees as a law with excessive federal regulations.

But even entertaining the idea of a state role in Florida's exchange is a sharp change in tone for the governor whose state led the legal challenge that ended up at the Supreme Court earlier this year.

It's doubtful that Scott could mount an entirely state-based exchange — the Health and Human Services Department has set a Friday deadline for states to declare their intention to run their own exchanges altogether, and Florida has so far done little to no work on setting up a new marketplace.

But HHS has given states until February to decide whether they're interested in a partnership with the federal government — an option that could be more attractive than ceding control over the insurance market entirely to HHS.

The Affordable Care Act envisions each state setting up its own exchange, but authorizes a federally run fallback in states that do not act. So although Republicans criticize the ACA as a government overreach, declining to run an exchange invites greater federal control over a key system that could have been in the state's hands.