For the past two years, the League has been advocating in the Florida legislature for extension of healthcare to our low income, working Floridians. In 2014, the League launched our “Campaign for a Healthier Florida: Closing the Gap”. The League has hosted a number of news conferences with local Chambers of Commerce, including those in St. Pete and Tampa. We have issued numerous action alerts to contact both the Governor and key legislative leaders.
Just recently, we hosted a press conference with Florida Legal Services, and invited national experts to share what other states are doing. Here in brief are our key points as to why accepting Federal dollars available to make healthcare more affordable:
- Florida needs a unique, flexible Florida solution that will keep Florida’s hard-earned dollars here: Twenty eight other states have already accepted available federal funds to help extend healthcare in their states to their lowest income working citizens. With the highest rate of uninsured in the country, Florida would extend health care coverage to is low-income working poor if it would accept $51 billion in federal funds through the Affordable Care Act.
- A Healthy Florida Works: In 2015, we saw business, hospitals and communities step forward under the banner of ” A Healthy Florida Works” to propose their own programs and ideas. In January of 2015, the Florida Chamber announced their support for taking federal funds under specific conditions and framework.
- Impending cuts of other Federal dollars make it even more critical that legislation be passed this year. Florida’s Low-Income Pool (LIP) and Medicaid Disproportionate Hospital Program (DSH) are very complex federal matching fund programs that bring more than $2 billion into the state annually. LIP funds will cease as of June 30, 2015; and DSH funds will be reduced.
- These losses could be averted or offset by the Florida Legislature accepting $51 billion in federal funds over ten years to extend health care coverage for low-income working families falling in the coverage gap (less than 138% Federal Poverty Level). It also will provide help for those struggling with mental health disorders.
- Accepting federal funds will more than offset these losses to the Florida budget by bringing $5 billion to the state annually. Without the federal funds, the legislature will have a more than $1 million shortfall in the state budget that be filled from the General Fund and result in severe cuts to other services throughout the state.
- Accepting this funding will build a healthier and a more profitable Florida. It will help save lives by keeping our safety-net hospitals and facilities solvent and able to provide both compensated and uncompensated care (insured and uninsured). In addition it will build a growing health care industry (including community infrastructure and jobs) to support it, save businesses and the insured from escalating premium and healthcare costs (estimated to by 8% per year, $1200 per person) to reimburse for uncompensated care, build healthier communities and Florida economy.
- The League has not signed on to any of these proposals at this time but we are pleased to see business and bi-partisan coalitions of political and community leaders urging action. We will examine proposals for our endorsement as the process moves forward. Creative ideas and problem solving is key if we are to see the Legislature fashion and pass a Florida specific plan this year.
Let’s keep Florida’s hard-earned money in Florida. The aforementioned $51 billion is Florida tax money that was assessed with the intent to return to the state. It is now flowing to other states.
Click here to visit the Kaiser Family Foundation website and see enrollment rates in the healthcare market place for your local area.