Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, represents District 101 in the Florida House of Representatives. His district spans the state from I-75 in Collier County to Pembroke Pines on the east coast. He was elected in 2007 in a special election to fill the unexpired term of the late Mike Davis, whom he considered a friend and mentor.
As chair of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, Hudson is the top health care budget writer in the House – and will have to deal with all the difficulties that come with that.
He’s also vice chair of the House Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Hudson is one of the most prominent real estate brokers in Florida in his role as Vice President of Operations and Broker of VIP Realty Group, Inc. in Southwest Florida. He is also a licensed real estate instructor.
The News Service of Florida has five questions for Matt Hudson:
Q: In the Senate counterpart to your PPACA (Obamacare) panel, a number of tea partiers called on lawmakers not to comply with the law. How will you deal with the pushback?
HUDSON: We’re going to make decisions that are the best for the state of Florida. In that committee, certainly they had some folks who were very passionate about the issue. And it’s important that people are passionate about the issue and talk about the issue. But in order for us to move forward, or to not move forward, we’ve got to be armed with education – and that’s what we’re going to do.
There’s literally what we anticipate being reams of paper of rules that are yet to be promulgated by the federal government. The devil is always in the details, and we’re waiting on them to promulgate the rules so that we understand what rules you would live by if you had a state exchange. What rules would you live by if you had a federal exchange? What rules would you live by if you had no exchange? What would happen with the IRS provisions on our small businesses?
All those things are yet to be determined. And those are things that, quite frankly, we should not be jumping to do this. I think some of the states that have jumped early, and have jumped on board without knowing that – frankly, I think their legislatures border on malfeasance.
We’re going to be extraordinarily cautious, and we’re going to be good stewards – just like the people who put us here wanted us to.
Q: What’s the status of Medicaid reform?
HUDSON: The Medicaid reform program that we passed in 2011 to expand from the five-county pilot to the 67-county total state approach is moving ahead nicely on the long-term care portion. And I would expect that we would meet our timelines.
Regarding the managed medical assistance program, which people are probably more familiar with, we are still waiting for the federal government to approve that. Their timeline is apparently their timeline, but I would certainly hope that they would recognize, especially as they deal with issues such as the fiscal cliff, that a program like we’re proposing will save money. It will save state dollars, it will save federal dollars, and it has already been identified as far better for the patient. So if you have a program that is pro-patient and pro-taxpayer, you have to ask yourself, ‘What’s the hold-up?’
In fairness to them, it’s post-election now for them, too. They’ve got all their stuff off the plate from the election, and they can move forward doing what they need to do. I would hope they would use some good common sense and approve a program that is just working.
Q: Talk about your agenda for the Department of Health in the upcoming session.
HUDSON: To take a hands-off approach. Over the last couple of years, I have really led kind of an effort to dig into the details at the Department of Health, and as you know, we passed House Bill 1263 earlier this year, reorganizing the agency. And in conjunction with taking on a new Surgeon General roughly around the same time, I think it would be appropriate for Dr. Armstrong, who I think is doing a fine job as Surgeon General, for him to be able to have the time to implement all the changes, see how they’re working and make sure we’re doing things the right way.
If there are things he identifies under his new administration that might be things he wants to tweak or fix or move forward, I’m happy to look at those kinds of things. But I think we’ve gone through a very significant change there, and I don’t see there’s a need to dig into that any more right now.
Q: How would you describe the new Legislature?
HUDSON: You know, for the upcoming session I think we’ve already seen from our new presiding officers a desire to work together, a desire to be inclusive. You see some of the committee chairmanships that President Gaetz has offered up that I think are very good. You’ve heard Speaker Weatherford in his opening remarks chat about making sure that we’re working together more. Just yesterday, I had a meeting with the ranking member of my committee, to be able to sit down and talk about her involvement in the committee and her participation and how my door would always be open.
And I think that is a positive thing. Floridians need to know that while there are certainly differences between the two parties, that in our capital, there is a desire to get things done together. Because at the end of the day, the institution is stronger, people’s faith in government is stronger, and even when we choose to disagree, there should be a civil discourse. And I think that’s what you’re seeing: a desire to have a civil discourse on the issues.
Q: As a real estate broker at Ground Zero of Florida’s housing crisis, what do you think the state should be doing about the housing market?
HUDSON: The market is recovering nicely. We have seen a tremendous uptick in sales. We have a situation that’s kind of refreshing: We’re seeing prices start to move up again.
We are seeing a depletion of inventory across the board and are now back into what I would consider a healthy market. Two years ago we had probably 24 to 36 months’ worth of inventory, which is not healthy for anything that you’re trying to sell – I don’t care if it’s Styrofoam cups. But now we’re down to, in some areas, two or three months. And that’s going to the opposite end of the spectrum. Usually a healthy market is between 5 and 7 months’ inventory, depending on the area.
We’re seeing new construction start again. In one of my communities, in Ave Maria, which is a housing development built around a university. They’re on pace this year to build probably between 60 and 70 houses. Last year they built 20.
So I don’t think there’s anything we need to do to stimulate the housing market. I think we are doing it in the fact that market conditions are taking care of things.