What Is All the Hubbub about Health Care?

The words “Health Care” tend to turn people off. In fact, I am surprised that you are reading this instead of skipping over it for the .gif article that features cute puppies and clips of your favorite TV shows.  But good for you! You are extending your knowledge about topics that are affecting us as a whole here in Tallahassee.

I’m not going to get into the health care debate. Just tune into your favorite news outlet and I’m sure you can take care of that yourself. What is worth mentioning is what is happening here and now, in Tallahassee, during legislative session.  

The fact is that health care is becoming THE debate of the session. Now more than ever because over $1 billion in the Low Income Pool funding is on the line as well as the funding and well-being of some of our hospitals. What is the Low Income Pool? We’ll get into that later….

In essence, the debate is whether or not to expand Florida’s health care system. The federal government is pushing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka: ObamaCare, on the states. But republican states, like Florida, continue to reject proposals to conform to the ACA.

Because the state government refuses to accept the federal money, the lost money is made up by the creation of the Low Income Pool (LIP) by a federal waiver. LIP funding is used to provide supplemental payments to hospitals that provide services to Medicaid recipients, as well was uninsured or underinsured people. This is where Florida and the federal government are in contention. The federal government is more than likely going to phase out the LIP funding unless Florida gets on board with the ACA.

Loss of the LIP means $1 billion for Florida’s financially vulnerable people will be lost, along with health care access for those people and income for hospitals that serve the underclass. Not only that, but it would be devastating to Florida’s budget. Revenues could turn to deficits and money that went into other areas of the budget, providing services to keep up Florida’s quality of life, will have to be re-routed into health care.  If Florida doesn’t come up with a plan to either compromise with the federal government or establish their next plan of action, things could get ugly.

So what's the plan? Surely Florida’s elected officials will deal with this issue, right? The answer to that is yes and no.

As you may know, Florida’s law making body, the legislature, is split up into the Senate and the House of Representatives. In the Senate, the Health Policy Committee has unanimously passed a new custom-made republican friendly version of Medicaid expansion, with the hope that the federal government will grant the state a waiver to use it and get LIP funding that way. On the other hand, the House, led by Speaker Steve Crisafulli (R- Merritt Island), is completely unwilling to accept any kind of Medicaid or Medicaid alternative proposal.

I have seen with my own eyes, discussion between members of the House of Representatives and the Chair of the House’s powerful Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. Hudson. I watched Rep. Hudson completely blow off the concerns of his committee members. He cited that negotiations were still being held between the federal government and the state of Florida, which is true, but his sense of confidence that everything will turn out okay was obviously not shared by the committee members.

So there we have it. Right now, as you read this, the debate for health care rages on in the Tallahassee Capitol. But that, dear Collegiettes, is the world of politics.