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5 things to watch at Wednesday’s meeting of Rick Scott’s hospital commission

The much-written about Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding holds its inaugural meeting in Tallahassee on Wednesday. Gov. Rick Scott, a former healthcare and hospital executive, has spent much of his time in the three weeks since lawmakers left town focusing on building a continuation base budget and negotiating with and suing the federal government over supplemental Medicaid funding called Low Income Pool.

Here are five things to look for coming out of today’s meeting:

  • Will hospitals get called out for their responses to the governor’s request for information? Using the governor’s proposed forms, the hospitals cited to the commission the report and the line where the information can be found instead of providing the figures the governor requested. Some hospitals submitted a Florida Hospital Association letter that explains why the facilities didn’t disclose information related to the hospital’s actual inpatient and outpatient Medicaid managed care payment rates because it “is proprietary and market sensitive.” Other hospitals used a letter provided by the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida that questioned the data the governor was seeking and additionally suggested that “prior to embarking on a comparative analysis of profit sharing scenarios,” the commission should request a “tailored hospital operating margin template be designed.”
  • Will the health plans/insurers get called out for their responses to the governor’s request for information? Similar to the hospitals, much of what the governor asked the plans to report is already public information. But not everything is, such as executive compensation and salaries. Aetna Life Insurance, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co., Humana Medical Plan are just some of the companies that left the spaces on the form blank. Although many plans didn’t report the information the largest did: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, now called Florida Blue. According to the insurers’ response it spent $4.7 million on executive management, $2 million on government affairs lobbyists and legal counsel in 2014. The highest salary was $1 million in 2014.
  • What will happen to certificates of need? It’s a licensing program that regulates the growth of health care infrastructure and applies to hospitals, nursing home and hospices. Fourteen states have eliminated CON laws, including Texas and California, and there is support in the House of Representatives for Florida to be state No. 15. So-called “CON” was included in the legislative call, and Rep. Jason Brodeur promised that the House would tackle the issue in the 2016 session.
  • What direction is the commission taking? Whether or not to make plans to go to the follow-up meeting in Orlando on Tuesday or to rest up in preparation for the Special Session should be clear by the end of the first commission meeting. Scott assembled a similar commission to examine “taxpayer hospitals” in 2011. It shouldn’t take long to ascertain whether this is deja vu.
  • How quickly will commission members absorb what’s being thrown at them? Scott made nine appointments to the board and steered clear of anyone with prior hospital or health insurance/HMO experience. One of his nine appointments, Jason Rosenburg, is a medical doctor from Gainesville, a reconstructive microsurgeon and a former chairman of the Florida Board of Medicine. Other appointees made campaign contributions to Scott or the governor’s political action committee, Let’s Get to Work, or to other Republican candidates, including Carlos Beruff of Parrish.

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