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Florida business interests at odds over healthcare this session

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There’s infighting among the “business” ranks this session on the healthcare front.

By the second week of session it’s clear that National Federation of Independent Business, Florida, the Florida Chamber, and Associated Industries of Florida have different ideas about the approach Florida should take on the healthcare front as the state faces the loss of federal Medicaid dollars that are used to pay hospitals, and federally qualified health centers as well as train future doctors.

While AIF thanked the Senate Health Policy Committee for agreeing to introduce a Medicaid expansion bill on Tuesday that has similar approaches to the A Healthy Florida Works plan, Florida Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Wilson withheld his support of the bill on  Tuesday. The Chamber supports expansion but wants to see a broad array of issues included in the proposal.

NFIB Florida Executive Bill Herrie was at the meeting but didn’t testify at all. He sat quietly in the committee taking it all in. His association, whose members are exclusively smaller employers, opposes any proposal that would expand Medicaid and tap into available federal dollars.

Instead, the NFIB wants to see a proposal that would allow patients to sign contracts with doctors and for a prepaid amount get primary care. NFIB’s proposal–which is to amend insurance laws to make clear direct primary care contracts are not insurance contracts–has support in the House.

The Florida Chamber has a broad bill that no one likes, jokes Wilson.  The Florida Chamber is supporting an 8 percent reduction in insurance rates and a 32 percent cap on the growth in Medicaid. The bill also expands the scope of practice for healthcare providers.

And the Florida Chamber makes a real break from AIF, and NFIB, in proposing changes to the state’s workers compensation to mitigate court rulings.

“Noboody likes this bill,” Wilson said.

The Florida Chamber does not have a bill sponsor for its 49-page proposal and Senate Health Policy Committee Chairman said that many of the ideas that the the group is proposing are too hot to be included in the already controversial committee bill.

Nevertheless, Wilson remains optimistic. “I would expect bits and pieces might be taken up,” he said.

While Herrle sat quietly in the Health Policy Committee meeting on Tuesday he said his members will speak on the issue soon enough.

“There is no unanimity in the business community on expansion,” he said.

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