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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

In D.C., Florida fears over health care reform




Health care reform is supposed to address a badly flawed system, but Florida hospital and insurance executives sounded widespread concern about the proposals in a meeting this morning with the congressional delegation.

The executives said they fear safety net hospitals, like Jackson Memorial in Miami, would lose tens of millions, and said there is not enough to address a doctor shortage or long-term care needs.

"It is full of unintended consequences," said Michael Schlossberg with the Broward Association of Health Underwriters.

Dr. Eneida Roldan, president and CEO of Jackson Health System, said proposed cuts for disproportionate share hospitals would have devastating effect. Florida already ranks 44th in per capita funding despite having some of the most pressing needs. Jackson stands to lose $81 million in Medicaid funding and $43 million in Medicare, she said.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, said House leaders have agreed to look at the proposed cuts for unfunded care. She highlighted positive aspects of the plan, including some increased funding for doctor residencies (a few hundred for Florida) but acknowledged there is more work to do.

"We're so close to this historic step," Castor said. "Floridians have a lot to gain."

Though cordial, lawmakers at times displayed the tension surrounding the debate.

Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Monticello, suggested greed has helped cripple the system. "When I was growing up, doctors weren't in it for the profit," he said.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, blasted the House Democratic bill, saying it would result in cuts to Medicare.

But Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, said reservations among lawmakers reflected re-election calculations, not courage. "It's impossible to believe that we don't have the sense enough to sit down and do what is right for our country."


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:19pm]


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