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Politics

State Senators to Rick Scott: We Want in on Healthcare Commission

May 7, 2015 - 6:00pm

State senators want to be a part of Gov. Rick Scotts new commission to review health care costs in Florida.

In April, Scott proposed a commission to take a closer look at "the role of taxpayer funding for hospitals, insurers and health care providers. Several senators have already thrown their names in the ring to serve on the commission, but whether or not their requests will be fulfilled -- or whether Scott has already selected members of the commission -- has yet to be determined.

On top of looking at the role of taxpayer funding for hospitals, the commission will analyze the affordability, access and quality of health care services hospitals provide to Florida families as a return on taxpayer investment.

The stakes are high for Scott as he begins the month of May and an embroiled feud with the federal government over whether or not the state should expand Medicaid. Neither the Senate nor the House can agree on a budget, either (as a result of a disagreement on whether or not to expand Medicaid), which prompted Scott to issue an executive order creating the commission.

Who -- and how many -- exactly will serve on Scotts commission hasnt been decided just yet, but all members of the commission will be appointed by the governor.

Putting their names on the list of potential candidates for the commission could give some lawmakers a chance to play a part in helping to negotiate a state budget (which, at the present moment, remains stalled due to an impasse between the House and Senate over whether to expand Medicaid).

Several senators have already expressed interest in spots on the commission.

Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, touted representing many patients at Jackson Memorial Health Care System as one reason Scott should choose him to serve on the commission.

Our state is facing many critical health care challenges and our hospitals are an important partner in providing services to Floridians in need of medical treatment, Garcia, who serves as chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Subcommittee, wrote to Scott.

Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, also said he wanted a coveted spot on the commission and on Friday, Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, was the latest to say she would also be interested in serving on the commission.

Sobel has held many health care-related positions in her time as a state senator. Most recently, shes served as vice chair of Health Policy Committee and was a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

I am proud to be a member of the Florida Senate, and support the Senates market-friendly, bipartisan plan to expand health care coverage to Floridians that fall into the gap of being too wealthy to qualify for Medicaid, and too poor to qualify for subsidies through the Affordable Care Act, she said.

The statement also made a campaign-like pitch for Sobel to gain a seat on the commission.

With Senator Eleanor Sobel you get a broad range of knowledge and experience dealing with health care issues, read a statement from her office. She will be an invaluable asset to the commission and deserves this appointment.

Sunshine State News contacted Gov. Scotts office for further, updated information on whether or not Scott will consider such appointments or whether the application process had already begun, but Scott Press Secretary Jeri Bustamante would neither confirm nor deny whether the process to select commission members was already underway.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen by email atallison@sunshinestatenews.comor follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

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