Nationally, the League has long advocated for health care reform and was a supporter of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which was signed into federal law by President Obama on March 30, 2010. With the second highest number of uninsured in America, and one of the states with the highest rate of individual signups since passage, the Florida League has been working to encourage timely implementation since the law passed with a focus on extending affordable healthcare to our lowest income working Floridians.
Florida League Launches Campaign for a Healthier Florida
For the past two years the Florida League has been advocating in the Florida Legislature for extension of
healthcare to our lowest 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 MAKES SENSE:
- 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 needs a unique, flexible Florida solution that will keep Florida’s hard-earned dollars here by accepting $51 billion in federal funds through the Affordable Care Act, and extending health care coverage to Florida’s low-income working poor.
- This year we have seen business, hospitals and communities stepping forward under the banner of ” A Healthy Florida Works” to propose their own programs and ideas to encourage forward momentum. In January of 2015, the Florida Chamber, announced their support for taking the Federal Funds under specific conditions and framework.
- 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.
- 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. For more information on their impact on Florida and specific regions, see Florida Legal Services’ reports here.
- 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.
- Let’s keep Florida’s hard-earned money in Florida (the $51 billion is actually Florida tax money that the was assessed with the intent to return to the state. It is now flowing to other states.)
Will You Help?
- Contact your Legislators: Call (850) 488-1234 or e-mail (find your legislator’s contact information): http://www.leg.state.fl.us/
- Contact Governor Scott by calling (850) 717-9337 or e-mail the Governor here.
- Urge the Governor and Legislators to accept the federal funds to extend health care coverage to help offset the expected $2 billion in cuts that are expected this year.
- Urge them to accept the federal funds to protect and grow our Florida economy, businesses and hospitals, jobs, and public health and help defray the cost of transferring uncovered health costs to those with insurance.
- Urge them to keep our money working for us in Florida and “Close the Gap” for a healthier Florida.
For more information about PPACA, check out our PowerPoint presentation Health Care Reform: What Does It Mean For You And Your Family? and corresponding handout. If you are a member of our Speakers Bureau and would like original files, please contact us.
Also check out “LWV Advocacy Bring Results: The Health Care Reform Law” by League member Nancy Rudner Lugo, DrPH and the League of Women Voters of Arizona’s booklet “Health Care Issues Behind Health Care Reform.”
“After the Ruling: A Consumer’s Guide” by Kaiser Health News