As members of A Healthy Florida Works coalition, the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce stood alongside 800 businesses, 34 local chambers of commerce, other statewide business associations and 112,000 concerned individuals as we collectively called on our Legislature to find a solution to Florida’s health care financing crisis.
Florida has one of the highest numbers of uninsured people in the nation. And, when those without insurance are forced to the emergency room or hospital for primary care, those costs have to be made up somewhere. Right now, we all help cover the cost of uncompensated care through rising health insurance premiums.
That is especially hard on business owners who are paying for employees’ health care.
During the regular legislative session, the Florida Senate developed an innovative, free-market program for approximately 800,000 low-income, working Floridians to access the preventative care they need to remain healthy, productive members of our workforce.
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The plan would have lowered taxes, saved businesses money and created jobs. And, it would have brought Florida tax dollars sent to Washington, DC, back to our state.
It was a plan supported by my Chamber and the many members of A Healthy Florida Works. Unfortunately, the Florida House of Representatives didn’t agree with the Senate’s approach.
Until directly addressed, our state’s health care financing crisis will persist and will continue to place an undue burden on Florida’s businesses. It’s not a problem that will go away on its own. Florida’s high number of uninsured remains a problem that demands a long-term, sustainable solution.
We truly appreciate the Florida Senate’s efforts to find a solution. Its commitment to the issue was unwavering.
The business community is grateful for the Senate’s leadership. We also commend those members of the Florida House, both Democrats and Republicans, who voted in favor of the Senate plan.
While a solution was not passed by both chambers this year, we know it will be an issue that will be discussed and debated when lawmakers return to Tallahassee this fall in preparation for the 2016 legislative session.
A Healthy Florida Works remains focused on the goals of covering more people and reducing the financial strain uncompensated care places on businesses. We look forward to being a part of the ongoing policy discussion and working with both the Senate and House to bring resolution to this critical issue.
Whatever the path forward, finding a way to extend health care coverage to 800,000 low-income Floridians is the right thing to do for our state, our business and our citizens.
Julio Fuentes, president and CEO, Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Lake Worth