The much-written about Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding holds its inaugural meeting in Tallahassee today. Gov. Rick Scott, a former healthcare and hospital executive, has spent much of his time in the three weeks since lawmakers have left town focusing on building a continuation base budget and negotiating with and suing the federal government over supplemental Medicaid dollars called Low Income Pool.
Here are five things to look for coming out of today’s meeting:
- Will hospitals get called out for their responses to the governor’s request for information? Using the governor’s proposed forms, the hospitals cited to the commission the report and the line where the information can be found instead of providing the figures the governor requested. Some hospitals submitted a Florida Hospital Association letter that explains why the facilities didn’t disclose information related to the hospital’s actual inpatient and outpatient Medicaid managed-care payment rates because it “is proprietary and market sensitive.” Other hospitals used a letter provided by the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida that questioned the data the governor was asking for and additionally suggested that “prior to embarking on a comparative analysis of profit-sharing scenarios, the commission should request a “tailored hospital operating margin template be designed.”
- Will the health plans/insurers get called out for their responses to the governor’s request for information? Similar to the hospitals, much of what the governor was asking the plans to report was already public information. But not everything, such as executive compensation and salaries. Aetna Life Insurance, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Humana Medical Plan are just some of the companies that left the spaces on the form blank. While many plans didn’t report the information, the largest: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida–now called Florida Blue– did. According to the insurer’s response it spent $4.7 million on executive management, $2 million on government affairs lobbyists and legal counsel in 2014. The highest salary was $1 million in 2014.
- What will happen to certificates of need? It’s a licensure program that limits the amount of growth in healthcare infrastructure and applies to hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. Fourteen states have eliminated CON laws, including Texas and California, and there is support in the House of Representatives for Florida to be state No. 15. So-called “CON” was included in the legislative call and state Rep. Jason Brodeur promised that the House would tackle the issue in the 2016 session.
- What direction is the commission taking? Whether or not to make plans to go to the followup meeting in Orlando on May 26 or to rest up in preparation for the special session should be clear by the end of the first commission meeting. Scott has assembled a similar commission to examine “taxpayer hospitals” in 2011. It shouldn’t take long to ascertain whether this is deja vu.
- How quickly members of the commission are absorbing what’s being thrown at them? Scott made nine appointments to the board and steered clear of anyone with prior hospital or health insurance/HMO experience. One of his nine appointments, Jason Rosenburg, MD, is a medical doctor. of Gainesville, who is a reconstructive microsurgeon and a former chair of the Florida Board of Medicine. Other appointees made campaign contributions to Scott or the governor’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, or to other Republican candidates, including Carlos Beruff, of Parrish.