Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has made eliminating barriers to health care access a top priority for the 2024 Session.
To that end, the Naples Republican sent a memo to Senators announcing that the chamber’s Health Policy Committee will hold a public workshop Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. on what she has been calling her “Live Healthy” initiative.
No other meetings have been scheduled during that time block “so every Senator has the opportunity to watch or attend the workshop,” Passidomo wrote.
She added that one of the primary goals of her initiative is “growing Florida’s health care workforce.” The Senate President is concerned because Department of Health (DOH) data show there were 58,062 full-time physicians actively practicing in Florida in 2022. On average, those doctors were aged 53. And 33% of them were over the age of 60, according to DOH.
Another study shows that Florida faces a potential shortfall of nearly 18,000 physicians by 2035. The numbers are similarly gloomy for nurses — a similar study reported that in 2019, Florida’s registered nurse (RN) workforce was 11,500 shy of what was needed and that the state was also short 5,600 licensed practical nurses (LPNs).
The deficits are projected to grow over the next decade, too, with the shortfalls potentially rising to 37,400 and 21,700 for RNs and LPNs, respectively. “It is clear to me that we have work to do to make sure Florida’s health care workforce is growing — just like the rest of our state,” she wrote in the memo.
Passidomo’s focus on health care comes as no surprise. The Senate President held meetings with interested parties throughout the summer, collecting input from interested parties.
“There are so many great ideas. Now it is the time to narrow down all of the ideas and put forward patient-focused innovations that improve access and options so more Floridians can live healthy. We can leverage communal insight to see what is working, and where we can improve the delivery and cost of health care with an eye toward prevention and early intervention that helps people live healthier,” she noted.
While the Senate Health Policy Committee will take the lead on health care workforce issues, House Speaker Paul Renner last month created the Select Committee on Health Innovation and appointed Rep. Kaylee Tuck, a Republican from Sebring, as Chair of the panel. The House select committee is slated to meet Nov. 13 and will hear presentations on the state group health insurance plan.