Sunday, September 23, 2018
Politics

Are Florida House Republicans making health care more 'free market' or 'unfair'?

TALLAHASSEE — When Richard Corcoran was sworn in as speaker of the Florida House in November, he laid out his vision for health care.

"Let us show Washington, D.C., and the rest of the country how well the people would benefit from a free-market, consumer-driven health care system," said Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes.

On Thursday, the Florida House took steps toward the future Corcoran wants, passing two components of a free-market health agenda the chamber has pushed in recent years:

• HB 161 gives people and employers the option to negotiate and contract directly with a doctor for primary care services. It passed 107-6.

• HB 145 allows surgical centers to keep patients for a full 24 hours and creates new recovery centers that can care for them 72 hours after surgery. It passed by a 79-34 vote, as most Democrats rose to oppose the bill.

Direct primary care will "make our health care system stronger," said Rep. Mike Miller, R-Winter Park, who sponsored the legislation last year and helped push HB 161 this year. Agreements with doctors aren't insurance and don't qualify as a health plan under Obamacare, but lawmakers believe it will increase access to preventive care.

Recovery centers are more controversial.

Supporters of HB 145 argue that surgical centers save money for generally healthy people and that recovery centers will allow them to mend in a safe environment at a lower cost, assuming there are no complications. All this helps people who face high deductibles on their health insurance plans, said Rep. Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, who sponsored the bill.

"(It) is a real victory for patients," he said. "It increases their access to care and also lowers the cost."

Opponents argued that new options for surgery and recovery will make it harder for hospitals to survive. Hospitals rely on private insurance to help cover losses from Medicaid, which pays less, and charity care for patients who can't afford to pay at all.

"Recovery care centers cherry pick private pay patients," said House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa. "It's not fair."

She also has safety concerns and said hospitals are better equipped for emergencies. Democrats tried to change the bill Wednesday to require doctors be on site 24 hours a day at recovery care centers and to force them to contribute to a state Medicaid fund.

Renner said patients with complications are still likely to go to hospitals, and he said he doesn't think hospitals will be harmed.

The issue is not likely to pass in the Senate, where the recovery care centers were taken out of similar legislation, though lawmakers left in language allowing surgical centers to hold patients for 24 hours.

"It's just not ready for prime time," said Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, the chairwoman of the Health Policy Committee. "There's just too many questions."

A point of agreement between Cruz and Renner: Changes to health care look a lot like what the Legislature has done in education as it passes policies that increasingly benefit charter schools.

"It's all an attempt to privatize," Cruz said. "It started with the schools, went to the prisons, and now the villains are the doctors and the hospitals."

Renner sees that same push in a more positive light: "It's putting people in the right place at the right price and making sure we're customizing care. The same thing we're doing in education with school choice, we're trying to do in health care."

Contact Michael Auslen at [email protected] Follow @MichaelAuslen.

Comments

AP source: Kavanaugh, Ford agree to testify on Thursday

WASHINGTON — Negotiators reached a tentative agreement Saturday for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hear testimony Thursday from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault from decades ago, two...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Trump administration aims to sharply restrict new green cards for those on public aid

WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials announced Saturday that immigrants who legally use public benefits like food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under new rules aimed at keeping out people the administrat...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Dana Young, Janet Cruz spar over guns, schools, environment in crucial Senate race

Dana Young, Janet Cruz spar over guns, schools, environment in crucial Senate race

TAMPA — During a showdown Friday in Florida’s most hotly contested state Senate race, Democratic challenger Janet Cruz launched fireworks at Dana Young over education funding, the environment and guns.Young, the Republican incumbent in District 18, r...
Published: 09/21/18
Confederate group banned from Temple Terrace country club, may take legal action

Confederate group banned from Temple Terrace country club, may take legal action

TEMPLE TERRACE — After complaints from city residents, the Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club has notified the City Council that it will not rent space again to the Sons of Confederate Veterans for its annual banquet.The country clubȁ...
Published: 09/20/18
Carlton: Should felons who have done their time get to vote? Citizens of Florida, it’s in your hands

Carlton: Should felons who have done their time get to vote? Citizens of Florida, it’s in your hands

It’s not often that we citizens — busy with work, paying the bills, living our lives — find ourselves with the power to right a fundamental wrong.But here in Florida, we’re about to get that chance.On the November ballot — among all those candidates ...
Published: 09/20/18
Daniel Ruth: City owes Gonzmart and Princess Ulele more than a notice of code violation

Daniel Ruth: City owes Gonzmart and Princess Ulele more than a notice of code violation

This has to be height of bureaucratic pettiness, especially for a city whose track record in promoting quality public art falls somewhere between stick figures and finger puppets.Richard Gonzmart is a community treasure. As the force behind a number ...
Published: 09/19/18
Romano: Florida’s dangerous prisons costing us more than money

Romano: Florida’s dangerous prisons costing us more than money

Two things you need to know about Florida’s prison budget:1. It was $2.3 billion this year.2. It was still not enough.Kind of staggering when you think of it that way, huh?We keep spending more and more on housing prisoners, and it’s like throwing mo...
Published: 09/18/18
Kavanaugh to testify after denying sexual assault allegations

Kavanaugh to testify after denying sexual assault allegations

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said Monday he was willing to speak to a Senate panel to "refute" an allegation he sexually assaulted a woman while in high school, after his accuser said via her attorney that she was ready to testi...
Published: 09/17/18
California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault

California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault

Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in subu...
Published: 09/16/18
Cuban refugee numbers plummet in Tampa area with cuts at Havana embassy

Cuban refugee numbers plummet in Tampa area with cuts at Havana embassy

It’s been nearly a year since the U.S. embassy in Havana suspended processing requests from people hoping to leave the island nation as refugees. The reason: Staffing was reduced to a skeleton crew in the wake of mysterious health attacks on em...
Published: 09/17/18