Legislative Agenda Puts Jobs, Growth and Economic Opportunity in the Driver Seat

 

Urges Lawmakers to Put Florida’s Long-Term Competitiveness Ahead of Short-Term Political Fixes

TALLAHASSEE (November 17, 2015) – As the Florida Chamber enters its 100th year of fighting for business, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today unveiled its 2016 Competitiveness Agenda – a comprehensive legislative agenda that focuses resources and expertise to advance jobs, growth and greater economic opportunities for Floridians. Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda builds on 104 pro-jobs bills passed and signed into law in the last five years, and is helping position Florida to be America’s number one private sector job creator.

Although there are more than 30 scored items in the 2016 agenda, here is a sample of what will make Florida more competitive:

  • A tax climate that helps generate job growth (we support a $1 billion cut),
  • A talented workforce to fill those jobs (continued education reform),
  • A diversified economy, and further improving Florida’s business climate (we support the $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund and other improvements to EFI),
  • A quality of life that includes science-based water policy, and
  • Smarter healthcare outcomes through transparency, competition and ending the cost shift.

Looking at Florida’s economic horizon, it’s clear Florida is making positive strides. More than 941,000 private-sector jobs have been created since Governor Rick Scott was first elected, approximately 3,000 regulations have been eliminated or improved, more than one billion in taxes have been cut, and Florida’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in seven years.

Looking forward, Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Jerry Parrish projects that by December, Florida will have created one million net new private-sector jobs since Governor Scott was elected, and he projects that Florida will create 220,000 new jobs in 2016.

“While Florida is moving in the right direction, now is not the time to be complacent,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Florida is in competition for private-sector jobs with other states, and therefore we must ensure a tax and business climate that is welcoming to job growth, ensure that we have a talented workforce to fill those jobs, ensure that Florida’s quality of life provides sustainable water resource solutions and that we lower the cost of healthcare through better outcomes. Now is the time to put Florida’s long-term economic security ahead of short-term political fixes.”

Based on input from Florida Chamber members, local chambers of commerce, partner associations, research, and unfinished business from 2015, the Florida Chamber’s 2016 Competitiveness Agenda is a blueprint of legislative priorities that it will lobby, track and score this Legislative Session.

LOWERING THE COST OF LIVING ON FLORIDA FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES

To lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business, the Florida Chamber recommends approximately one billion dollars in targeted tax cuts as follows:

  • Phasing out the Business Rent Tax (taxes on commercial leases),
  • Continuing to phase out the corporate income tax,
  •  Permanently eliminating the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment, and
  • Supporting sales tax holidays on back-to-school items and hurricane preparedness.

CHAMPIONING A TALENTED WORKFORCE TO FILL JOBS

Talent is the new economic development currency. A quality education is the best way to ensure students can compete in a global economy, and therefore the Florida Chamber recommends:

  • Staying the course on school grades, and issuing school grades this year, and
  • Providing educational opportunities and economic independence for individuals with unique abilities.

DIVERSIFYING FLORIDA’S ECONOMY & IMPROVING FLORIDA’S BUSINESS CLIMATE

To build the perfect business climate, the Florida Chamber recommends:

  • Investing in Florida’s Enterprise Fund,
  • Fixing Florida’s broken legal system by addressing Assignment of Benefits and Fair Settlement lawsuit abuses, and
  • Engaging a workers’ comp legislative solution if the Florida Supreme Court rules against job creators and in favor of trial lawyers in pending court cases.

SECURING FLORIDA’S WATER FUTURE

To secure Florida’s water future, and avoid California’s mistakes, the Florida Chamber recommends science-based water policy that will:

  • Help ensure a clean and abundant water supply,
  • Reduce the prospect of “water wars” among users in resource-limited areas, and
  • Promote strategic partnerships between the public and private sector in achieving water resource development goals.

LOWERING THE COST OF HEALTHCARE

Whether or not the legislature expands Medicaid, the Florida Chamber recommends reducing the cost of healthcare by:

  • Greater transparency – whether pricing outcomes or value of procedures or facilities – provides greater competition and is a win for Florida families,
  • Eliminating healthcare fraud and abuse through innovative practices and technologies,
  • Allowing telemedicine to serve as an alternative healthcare delivery system to increase capacity, deliver high quality of care and control costs, and
  • Increasing the capacity and number of medical professionals by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to practice to their fullest potential.

 

A complete listing of the Florida Chamber’s 2016 Competitiveness Agenda which outlines more than 30 priorities the Florida Chamber will be lobbying, tracking and scoring this Legislative Session, is outlined in Where We Stand and available at www.FloridaChamber.com.

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber Champions Healthcare Expansion and Lower Premiums During Central Florida Partnership Business Briefing

 

CEO Mark Wilson Says: Expand Healthcare and Give Us Our Eight Percent Back

ORLANDO, FL. (April 24, 2015) – Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson today told a sold-out crowd attending the Central Florida Partnership Business Briefing that Florida should expand healthcare coverage and lower insurance premiums on the insured by finally ending the eight percent “cost shift”.

The Florida Hospital Association reports that hospitals currently “cost shift” about $1.4 billion of uncompensated care onto those who have health coverage – increasing premiums by about eight percent.

“At the Florida Chamber, we believe Florida has an opportunity to set the national example for expanding healthcare coverage while also lowering costs on Floridians and reforming Florida’s healthcare system,” Wilson said during the “Expanding Healthcare and Ending the Cost Shift Now” Business Briefing. “Simply put, expand healthcare coverage to more Floridians, and give us our eight percent back.”

Making Florida more competitive means making tough choices, and putting the long-term security of Florida’s future ahead of short-term fixes. Currently:

  • One-seventh of Florida’s economy is based on healthcare, and
    About 30 percent of Florida’s budget is consumed by Medicaid.

Worse yet, those numbers are growing – eclipsing Florida’s spending in crucial areas like education. As our state prepares to add six million new residents by 2030, it’s more important than ever that we get healthcare coverage right.

That’s why the Florida Chamber’s Healthcare Task Force, made up of volunteer business leaders from around Florida, developed a comprehensive Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan. It embraces expanding coverage and lowering costs, while achieving better healthcare outcomes and eliminating the $1.4 billion hidden healthcare tax that is “shifted” onto Floridians.

Smart solutions to further lower costs include reducing major cost drivers like:

  • Billions in healthcare fraud,
  • Inflated workers’ comp reimbursements,
  • Meritless lawsuits,
  • Allowing telemedicine to serve as an alternative healthcare delivery system, and
  • Enabling nurse practitioners to practice to their fullest potential.

“Most importantly, limiting the overall financial impact on the Medicaid budget to no more than 32 percent, and allowing a flow through of savings in the form of lower insurance premiums is a key component of the Florida Chamber’s plan,” Wilson added.

The Florida Chamber has championed a Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan throughout the legislative session. Wilson testified before the Florida Senate on more than one occasion, offered a 49-page comprehensive healthcare proposal as well as executive overview, and shared an educational video of Florida’s $1.4 billion hidden healthcare tax with employees throughout Florida.

Given that lawmakers remain far apart on their current budget discussions – a result of the House and Senate having different positions on healthcare expansion, the Florida Chamber is also recommending that lawmakers separate the federal funding of the Low Income Pool (LIP) from ending the cost shift. After securing LIP funding from the federal government, the Florida Chamber is hopeful that the Florida Legislature will return to the negotiating table to address the real opportunities in Florida’s healthcare arena – improving the quality of care, expand coverage, finally end the eight percent cost shift, protect taxpayers, reduce fraud and lower healthcare costs for Floridians.

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber Releases A Smarter Healthcare Coverage Plan

 

Seven Part Plan Aims to Eliminate $1.4 Billion in Hidden Healthcare Tax on Floridians

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (January 13, 2014) – In its ongoing efforts to secure Florida’s future by making Florida more competitive, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today released its Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan. This seven-point comprehensive healthcare plan calls for bending the cost curve for Florida’s families and job creators by eliminating the $1.4 billion in hidden healthcare taxes.

The Florida Chamber remains significantly concerned about the growth of federal entitlements and resulting erosion of our freedoms, and therefore opposes the traditional expansion of Medicaid unless an alternative plan – one that embraces private solutions with flexible steps to eliminate the $1.4 billion cost shift on Florida families and caps Florida’s Medicaid budget at 32 percent – is put in place.

Unlike the federal government, and what some groups believe, expanding healthcare coverage should not be “an all or nothing deal”. The Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan:

  • Eliminates the expensive and burdensome $1.4 billion hidden tax on Florida’s families and businesses,
  • Improves access to healthcare through innovation and an expanded field of healthcare professionals, and
  • Produces better health and economic outcomes by reducing fraud, lawsuit abuse and inflated workers’ comp costs.

Currently, Floridians pay an additional $1.4 billion in hidden healthcare taxes to cover healthcare received by the uninsured. That’s about $2,000 on insured Floridians for every hospital stay to cover the cost of the uninsured. And, uninsured healthcare costs are expected to rise as the federal government ends funding for the Low Income Pool (LIP).

With approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 28 states have initiated some version of flexible healthcare solutions to meet their states needs. Recently, the Florida Chamber urged HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell to reopen conversations with Florida’s elected leaders, and work toward a Florida solution. Maximum flexibility to cover Florida’s uninsured would help prevent the $1.4 billion hidden tax forced onto families and job creators.

The Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan will help ensure taxpayers benefit from accepting federal dollars instead of being punished by shifting even more costs of extended healthcare coverage to families and businesses. This plan is a cost efficient, sustainable healthcare model that provides coverage to the uninsured and eliminates the cost shift.

 

“As Florida prepares to welcome six million new residents by 2030, Florida has an important opportunity to get healthcare coverage right,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “As lawmakers consider ending the $1.4 billion cost shift on Floridians, the Florida Chamber is continuing to play an integral role in helping reform our state’s healthcare system.”

Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida:

  1. Smarter Healthcare Coverage
    Eliminating the cost shift on Florida’s families and small businesses by addressing the cost equation. Limiting the overall financial impact on the Medicaid budget to no more than 32 percent, and providing allowing for a “flow through” of savings to Floridians in the form of lower insurance premiums.
  2. Healthcare Delivery System and Medical Professional Capacity
    Ensuring Florida’s healthcare delivery system has the capacity to respond at a high level of quality and meet the needs of Floridians. Allowing telemedicine to serve as an alternative healthcare delivery system, increasing the capacity and number of medical professionals by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to practice to their fullest potential, and decreasing Florida’s growing need for physicians by expanding medical residency positions.
  3. Lawsuit Abuse Reform
    A Major Cost Driver: Attracting and retaining the best medical professional’s calls for improving on Florida’s bottom 10 legal environment and preventing meritless lawsuits and penalties that deter doctors from entering the medical field.
  4. Workers’ Compensation
    A Major Cost Driver: Ensuring Florida’s workers’ comp system is fair and not inflated by trial lawyer tactics and other unnecessary costs will help lower the cost of doing business in Florida.
  5. Healthcare Fraud
    A Major Cost Driver: Eliminating healthcare fraud and abuse will lower total healthcare costs.
  6. Step Therapy and Prior Authorization
    Opposing current legislation that would undermine the use of prior authorization and step therapy protocols in Florida.
  7. Medicaid Managed Care
    Opposing efforts to undermine the tenets of the managed care model – including the so-called ‘any willing provider’ provision.

Download a copy of the Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Plan for Florida by clicking here or by visiting www.FloridaChamber.com/HealthCareSolutions.

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber’s ‘Smarter Healthcare’ Plan Aims to Eliminate $1.4 Billion in Hidden Tax

By: Sunshine State News

In its ongoing efforts to secure Florida’s future by making Florida more competitive, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today released its Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan.

The chamber’s seven-point comprehensive health care plan calls for “bending the cost curve for Florida’s families and job creators by eliminating the $1.4 billion in hidden health care taxes.”
In a prepared announcement, the Florida Chamber said it remains significantly concerned about the growth of federal entitlements and resulting erosion of our freedoms, and therefore “opposes the traditional expansion of Medicaid unless an alternative plan – one that embraces private solutions with flexible steps to eliminate the $1.4 billion cost shift on Florida families and caps Florida’s Medicaid budget at 32 percent – is put in place.”

Said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber, “As Florida prepares to welcome 6 million new residents by 2030, Florida has an important opportunity to get health care coverage right. As lawmakers consider ending the $1.4 billion cost shift on Floridians, the Florida Chamber is continuing to play an integral role in helping reform our state’s health care system.”

Wilson claims, unlike the federal government, and what some groups believe, expanding health care coverage should not be “an all or nothing deal.” The Florida Chamber says its Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan does this:

  • Eliminates the expensive and burdensome $1.4 billion hidden tax on Florida’s families and businesses,
  • Improves access to health care through innovation and an expanded field of health care professionals, and
  • Produces better health and economic outcomes by reducing fraud, lawsuit abuse and inflated workers’ comp costs.
  • Currently, Floridians pay an additional $1.4 billion in hidden health care taxes to cover health care received by the uninsured. That’s about $2,000 on insured Floridians for every hospital stay to cover the cost of the uninsured. And, uninsured health care costs are expected to rise as the federal government ends funding for the Low Income Pool (LIP).

With approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 28 states have initiated some version of flexible health care solutions to meet their states’ needs. Recently, the Florida Chamber urged HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell to reopen conversations with Florida’s elected leaders, and work toward a Florida solution. Maximum flexibility to cover Florida’s uninsured would help prevent the $1.4 billion hidden tax forced onto families and job creators.

The Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan has been designed to help ensure taxpayers benefit from accepting federal dollars instead of being punished by shifting even more costs of extended health care coverage to families and businesses. “This plan is a cost-efficient, sustainable health care model that provides coverage to the uninsured and eliminates the cost shift,” says the chamber.

Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida:

  • Smarter Healthcare Coverage: Eliminating the cost shift on Florida’s families and small businesses by addressing the cost equation. Limiting the overall financial impact on the Medicaid budget to no more than 32 percent, and providing allowing for a “flow through” of savings to Floridians in the form of lower insurance premiums.
  • Health Care Delivery System and Medical Professional Capacity: Ensuring Florida’s health care delivery system has the capacity to respond at a high level of quality and meet the needs of Floridians. Allowing telemedicine to serve as an alternative health care delivery system, increasing the capacity and number of medical professionals by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to practice to their fullest potential, and decreasing Florida’s growing need for physicians by expanding medical residency positions.
  • Lawsuit Abuse Reform – A Major Cost Driver: Attracting and retaining the best medical professionals and preventing meritless lawsuits and penalties that deter doctors from entering the medical field.
  • Workers’ Compensation – A Major Cost Driver: Ensuring Florida’s workers’ comp system is fair and not inflated by trial lawyer tactics and other unnecessary costs will help lower the cost of doing business in Florida.
  • Health Care Fraud – A Major Cost Driver: Eliminating health care fraud and abuse will lower total health care costs.
  • Step Therapy and Prior Authorization: Opposing current legislation that would undermine the use of prior authorization and step therapy protocols in Florida.
  • Medicaid Managed Care: Opposing efforts to undermine the tenets of the managed care model – including the so-called ‘any willing provider’ provision.

Download a copy of the Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Plan for Florida by clicking here or by visiting www.FloridaChamber.com/HealthCareSolutions.

Did You Know Floridians Pay $1.4 Billion Due to Uncompensated Care?

Did you know? Floridians pay a “hidden tax” of $1.4 billion due to uncompensated care. When this cost trickles down from hospitals and insurance companies to insured Floridians, it equates to between $1,700 to $2,200 for every insured admission.

As Florida’s business community is well aware, healthcare costs continue to have a significant impact on the bottom line. As costs continue to increase, Florida businesses struggle to prosper and the overall competitiveness of the business community diminishes. This week’s Scorecard Did You Know highlights the real cost of rising healthcare expenses to Florida businesses, more commonly known as the healthcare cost shift.

“Hospitals need to manage care delivery differently, moving toward focusing more exclusively on outcomes and efficiency of treatment,” said Rich Morrison with Florida Hospital. “This is an issue and challenge for those of us in the care industry as well as the business community as a whole. Taking into account uncompensated care to the uninsured, unpaid deductibles and copayments, and unreimbursed costs from Medicare/Medicaid, Florida Hospital alone spent more than $400 million last year on treatment and care that was never paid for. When this number is added up across the industry, the results are a massive cost shift and represent a hidden tax that ends up being paid for by consumers, the insured, and the businesses that pay the majority of insurance coverage. In a state with such a sizable number of retirees, this is a pressing challenge for Florida over the next 20-plus years.”

Florida’s demand for healthcare services is typically much higher than other states due to a significantly higher population of retirees. Between now and 2030, the Florida Chamber Foundation estimates Florida’s population is expected to increase by six million residents. Of these, the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research estimates as many as 55.4 percent will be aged 60 and older.

Calculating this cost shift is complex, but a range can be estimated. The first step is comparing total costs of service to the total charges, which then is allocated among the 2.4 million yearly hospital admissions in the state. The analysis leads to a range of cost-shift of about $2,000 for each uninsured to insured admission and this estimate does not include the additional cost shifts present in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The cost shift occurs when the costs for medical care for the uninsured are “passed” onto insured patients. When a doctor or hospital provides care to an uninsured party, the costs of those services have to come from somewhere. Insurance companies are ultimately forced to incorporate them into higher premiums, which are paid (the majority of the time) by companies providing benefits for their employees. To make Florida more attractive for business startups and relocations, healthcare costs must be slowed and show real decline, especially with respect to the cost shift.

Learn More

Read the Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan here.