Live Healthy Florida? Let’s take a look at the green(s)
Kathleen Passidomo. Image via Colin Hackley.

The initiative directs $75M toward a health innovation loan program for hospitals and nursing homes.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s Live Healthy initiative aims to bolster Florida’s health care workforce and infrastructure and directs hundreds of millions to help get it done. The price tag fluctuates —Passidomo herself said it was $750 million, though other documents suggest it’s closer to $874 million.

Here’s how some of that money is being spent:

— $571.2 million for Medicaid rate increases: The biggest chunk of change — $195.8 million — would help increase the rates for home and community-based providers. Another $152 million is targeted to improve maternal care in labor and delivery and statutory teaching hospitals that provide residencies in specialized tertiary care are in line for a $100 million rate bump.

— $75 million to fund a low-interest health care innovation loan program: The grants will allow providers, such as rural hospitals and nursing homes, to bring innovation to their facilities, patients and residents. Sen. Gayle Harrell says the intent is for the program to be funded at $75 million annually over 10 years, or a $750 million investment.

— $70 million to expand graduate medical education (GME) programs: The proposal will increase residencies in the “Slots for Doctors Program.” Touted by the Florida Medical Association, the GME program allocates $100,000 annually for residency positions in an initial or established accredited residency program. All hospitals and Federally Qualified Health Centers are eligible for “Slots for Docs” funding.

The specialties that qualify for the Slots for Docs program this year are: allergy or immunology; anesthesiology; cardiology; colon and rectal surgery; emergency medicine; endocrinology; family medicine; gastroenterology; general internal medicine; geriatric medicine; hematology; oncology; infectious diseases; neonatology; nephrology; neurological surgery; obstetrics/gynecology; ophthalmology; orthopedic surgery; pediatrics; physical medicine and rehabilitation; plastic surgery/reconstructive surgery; psychiatry; pulmonary/critical care; radiation oncology; rheumatology; thoracic surgery; urology; and vascular surgery.

— $50 million to expand medical and dental assistance loan repayment programs: The proposal expands the current medical and dental loan repayment program, dubbed FRAME, to allow dental hygienists to participate. The bill also allows mental health professionals to participate. Loan amounts range from a high of $150,000 for physicians to a low of $45,000 for registered nurses or licensed practical nurses.

— $40 million to create the new TEACH funding program: The goal is to increase the availability of clinical opportunities for an array of medical students while offsetting the administrative costs of maintaining a clinical training program.

— $23.4 million for minority maternity care: The bill expands statewide an existing telehealth prenatal program currently underway in 18 counties that aims to improve maternal health in minority populations.

— $11.5 million to expand mobile response teams: The bill includes funding to ensure that mobile response teams are funded in every county, which should result in a lower number of Baker Acts or crisis and emergency hospitalizations.

Passidomo and other key Senators unveiled details of the initiative, which will include everything from regulations to health care pricing transparency to offering up forgivable loans to doctors and nurses who agree to do volunteer health services.

It does not, though, include expanding access to health care to working uninsured residents through a Medicaid expansion. Florida is one of 10 states not to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law often referred to as “Obamacare.”

“Access to health care is important at every phase of life,” Passidomo said. “Insurance does not guarantee access, as even Floridians with great insurance face barriers to care. Live Healthy is a robust package of policy enhancements and strategic investments that will help make sure Florida’s health care workforce is growing at the same pace as the rest of our great state.”

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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