A stalemate of sorts during the last legislative session put some big things in motion for Florida’s healthcare system while leaving others behind- and it looks like many of those issues will be back up for debate this year.
Lawmakers failed to reach a consensus on if and how to expand Medicaid. They also failed to meet a federal deadline to establish a state-run healthcare exchange, letting the power to do that instead fall back to the federal government.
“Unless there’s a spark, I don’t see any changes from what the legislature decided this past year,” says Republican State Senator Aaron Bean.
Bean joined Florida Governor Rick Scott and State Senator John Thrasher today at the University of North Florida to talk about the effects of the federal healthcare law on Florida.Governor Rick Scott spent much of the time touting the perks of living in Florida and the fact that the state is moving in the right direction in terms of job growth and other economic indicators.
Following his speech, I asked specifically what the federal law taking full effect just around the corner would, in fact, mean to you. He offered few details other than saying it’s up to lawmakers to figure out.
“There’s continued things happening federally, and we’ll see what comes out,” Scott says.
Healthcare experts also at today’s “Caring Community Conference” dove in to more details. Dr. Yank Coble, who leads the Center for Global Health and Medical Diplomacy at UNF, tells me right now the US is held in high regard globally for its healthcare system- not just for the impact on health, but on the economy as well.
”Our healthcare bioscience industry is a major employer, and it’s a high per capita income employment,” Coble says.
He tells me we can keep that global reputation with the federal changes, but we have to be careful not to let priorities like scientific development and medical employment growth fall to the side.
Bean thinks that many of these healthcare decisions will take center stage once again in the upcoming legislative session.He still opposes the federal healthcare law overall, but tells me in order to see progress at the state level dealing with what we have been given, the federal government needs to come forward as well and give the state options.
“Hopefully we can come together and at least take a baby step,” he says.
He says if they’re allowed to take a more incremental approach to implementing these changes, he thinks lawmakers can find more common ground. Because of the constant flux in the rules, however, he has few doubts about the decisions that have been made over the past year.
“You were putting Florida taxpayers on the line for creating the exchange when all of the rules still had not been written.”
Thrasher likewise agrees healthcare will be a priority, but adds that the state needs to keep a focus on big picture growth, which must include a continued focus on job growth and education.