Chamber says focus should be Medicaid financing, not expansion

medical dudek

The Legislature should focus its efforts on securing continued supplemental Medicaid funding for Florida hospitals but not push ahead with a plan to provide health insurance access to uninsured Floridians. So said Florida Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Wilson in a memo Wednesday.

The memo, directed to the Chamber’s board of directors and Health Care Task members, said there are two realities in Tallahassee:

  • The Senate’s current Medicaid “expansion” plan does not address important cost driver reforms that will reduce health care costs for Floridians, and;
  • The federal government’s ransom-style threat to link the federal LIP funding to the state’s decision to expand Medicaid essentially throws out all hope of a “grand bargain” being reached during the regular Legislative Session.

Wilson said that the Legislature should “start solving one problem at a time” and that the immediate focus should be on securing passage of the Senate’s proposal to continue Low Income Pool funding. “The Senate’s LIP funding concept is wise and deserves the support of the Governor’s Office, House and the Florida Chamber.”

At first blush it may appear that the Florida Chamber is withdrawing support of the Senate’s Medicaid expansion proposal, but that isn’t the case. The Florida Chamber never supported the plan in the first place, unlike Associated Industries of Florida. The Chamber withheld support of the Medicaid expansion because it didn’t contain provisions the group had advocated for this Session.

The Chamber had a proposal called Smarter Healthcare Plan that included an array of issues outside of expanded health care access. The proposal called for changes in the state’s worker’s compensation system, such as increasing the amount of attorney’s fees available in worker’s compensation cases. It also called for changes to the state’s medical malpractice laws to accommodate a Supreme Court ruling.

The Florida Chamber health plans mandated that insurance rates be rolled back by 8 percent. The 8 percent figure comes from a figure, Wilson says, that represents the Florida Hospital Association’s assertion that there is an 8 percent cost shift due to uncompensated care.

The Chamber supported the Medicaid expansion with co-payments and premiums for those who enroll in it, but it wanted any proposal to contain a cap to ensure that the expansion would not cause Medicaid to exceed 32 percent of the state’s fiscal budget any given year.

Wilson presented the Florida Chamber’s plan at the Senate Health Policy Committee early in the Legislative Session. The proposal was never filed as a bill and Committee Chairman Sen. Aaron Bean said at the time the Chamber’s provisions were “too hot” to be included in the plan he was drafting, which eventually emerged as the Senate’s FHIX plan.

Florida Politics reported earlier this Session that the three business groups that lobby the Legislature — Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Chamber and National Federation of Independent Business Florida — did not see eye-to-eye on health care access and what should be done in Florida.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


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