A Healthy Florida Needs Healthy Florida Hospitals
This article first appeared as a column in the 2024 February issue of South Florida Hospital News
By Mary Mayhew, FHA President and CEO
Just three weeks into the legislative session, the Florida Senate already passed two bills in the large omnibus “Live Healthy” health care package. A hugely positive development, the quick and unanimous passage signals strong support for bolstering Florida’s health care system for decades to come.
The two bills – SB 7016 and SB 7018 – to grow Florida’s health care workforce, increase Medicaid reimbursement for labor and delivery services, continue Hospital at Home programs, and incentivize innovation through investments in technology are significant, and hospitals applaud their passage and the Senate’s leadership. One area of concern is the creation of Advanced Birthing Centers (ABCs). Because Florida hospitals recognize the difficulty in predicting a low-risk pregnancy, FHA is working to address safety concerns related to ABCs in an effort to support the state’s commitment to improving maternal health and reducing maternal mortality.
Getting the Live Healthy package across the finish line to the governor’s desk and signature is front and center for Florida hospitals.
Along with Live Healthy’s provisions, Florida hospitals have several additional priorities, all of which are essential for strengthening the health care infrastructure in rural and urban communities and continuing to meet the growing need for physical and behavioral health care. These include:
- Creating new state licensure for rural emergency hospitals to align with federal policy that allows rural hospitals to maintain Medicare reimbursement while limiting services to emergency and outpatient services.
- Recurring funding to support rural hospitals’ capital improvement projects.
- Expanding the state’s Community Mental Health Models.
- Supporting increased transparency around Florida’s Medicaid Managed Care Plans by producing reports on key contract requirements.
- Holding payers accountable by requiring adherence to federal standards for prior authorization requests, reducing health plan denials by statutorily defining a clean claim, and preventing plans from altering medical necessity determinations after claim submission.
- Preserving access to critical Medicaid services through enhanced hospital Medicaid reimbursement rates to support maternal care for moms and babies in labor and delivery.
- Addressing the state’s skyrocketing medical malpractice premiums and cost issues contributing to the physician shortage by reinstating caps on noneconomic damages in claims for personal injury or wrongful death arising from medical negligence.
Florida hospitals have risen to the occasion to meet the increasing demand for high-quality, advanced health care that comes with the state’s exponential population growth. And they will continue to do so.
It is critical that hospitals continue to receive the support of lawmakers and key state officials.
Florida’s hospitals are a key factor in the state’s economic success story because of their direct economic contributions and because of the work they lead to create a healthier Florida where every resident can fully participate and engage in school, work, family life, and their community.
Hospitals are often the largest employers in a region. They provide stability and job growth as well downstream economic impact by purchasing goods and services from other local businesses. These are vital contributions, and hospitals are rightly described as economic engines.
Hospitals are also key to children’s educational success, to seniors’ quality of life, and to employees’ engagement and productivity. Without good health, children cannot maximize their educational opportunities. They are absent from school and drop out when not physically and mentally healthy. Seniors are less engaged in their families and communities. The workforce is less present, less productive, and less successful. And the cycle of poverty is harder to disrupt.
Florida’s hospitals are indispensable for the state to prosper, to thrive, to attract the best and brightest, and to be the economic powerhouse that it is. When lawmakers support hospitals, with meaningful investments like Live Healthy, they are supporting a strong economy, healthy children and seniors, a present and productive workforce, and the opportunity for every resident to succeed and thrive.