Category Archives: Public Affairs


Polk County House Delegation Editorial: Florida Senate Medicaid Plan Too Risky

We are a compassionate state and nation that ensures lifesaving care is available to everyone. Thanks to the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act signed by President Ronald Reagan, no one can be denied hospital emergency care.

However, we all know that using emergency rooms for primary care wastes money.

Chief among the proposed solutions to this waste is the federal government’s plan to expand Medicaid.

Traditional Medicaid is a joint federal­ state program for low­ income people with federally imposed benefits and defined coverage groups. In Florida, Medicaid is 31 percent of the state budget, or $23.3 billion per year for 3.74 million people.

That’s roughly $6,500 per enrollee. Medicaid expansion would add more enrollees with the federal government picking up 90 percent of the cost.

However, there is no guarantee those funds will continue past this decade. With its continuing reckless budgets and spending initiatives, unsustainable entitlements will likely be the first in line for cuts when Congress finally makes the hard choices. This is just too risky for Florida. Today, even a 1­percent shift in the match would cost Floridians about $180 million every single year.

We know from experience that federal partnerships can be unreliable. They committed to pay 50 percent of the Everglades restoration and 40 percent of special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but in both cases, the federal government has met less than half of that promise. The money we do receive comes with strings, making these funds far from “free.”

Most important, we know Medicaid doesn’t serve patients well.

Researchers in Oregon conducted the only scientific study of Medicaid in the country.The study found that Medicaid coverage had no statistically significant effect on recipients’ clinical health, compared with those without Medicaid. In short, Medicaid patients were no better off than the uninsured.

The University of Virginia also studied 893,658 major surgeries over a five­year period and compared the clinical outcomes, accounting for all factors except coverage type. They found that Medicaid patients were 93 percent more likely to die before leaving the hospital than patients with private insurance, while uninsured patients were 73 percent more likely to die than patients with private insurance. In short, Medicaid patients were worse off than the uninsured.

The Florida Senate has proposed a plan to expand coverage using (promised) federal dollars that they call market ­based.

Sadly, it is pure, plain old Medicaid expansion. It’s the same Medicaid expansion group mandated by Obama­care. It uses the same federal dollars. And it provides the same Medicaid services.

The Senate plan is unrealistic. While this proposal may contain a few creative, freemarket elements, the federal government will not approve them. Other states have already asked for federal approval of these ideas and they were denied. This gambles with people’s lives.

If the plan is not approved within six months, those people will see their coverage terminated, making the state as unreliable and unpredictable as the federal government.

The Florida Senate wants to expand a government program proven not to work, with money that taxpayers don’t (or won’t) have, to people who may not be eligible in six months, contingent upon a federal waiver that is unlikely to be approved. Yet, some people can’t believe the Florida House thinks this is a bad idea.

This session, the House proposed several bills that encourage transparency and consumer choice. They include ideas that encourage direct primary care models, assist state employees to be better informed about their health care options, and give more regulatory freedom to lower­cost health care providers like ambulatory surgical centers and recovery care centers.

We passed health care workforce reforms in 2014, designed to increase access to needed care, which the Senate declined to pass. Before that, we passed an alternative coverage plan in 2013 that the Senate refused to even debate.

Expanding Medicaid is too risky for Florida and it doesn’t provide better outcomes for those who are currently uninsured. We want everyone to have access to highquality health care, but expanding the federal Medicaid program is not the answer.

Thomas Jefferson commented long ago, “The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.”

As members of the Florida House Polk County delegation we support an honest position on this important issue and we stand together in opposition to the Medicaid expansion policy option for Florida.

[ State Reps. Ben Albritton, R­Wauchula, Colleen Burton, R­Lakeland, Neil Combee, R­Polk City, Mike LaRosa, R­St. Cloud and John Wood, R­Winter Haven, all represent Polk County in the Florida House of Representatives. ]

Originally published by the Lakeland Ledger on April 28, 2015


House Approves Florida Chamber Priorities in House Tax Reform Package

The Florida House Finance and Tax Committee passed a $436 million tax cut package today, which included the following important Florida Chamber priorities:

  • Communications Services Tax Cut
  • Reducing sales taxes on commercial leases
  • Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday
  • Small Business Saturday Tax Holiday
  • Research and Development tax cuts

Florida Chamber Executive Vice President David Hart testified before the committee this morning emphasizing the Florida Chamber’s support of the plan and urging lawmakers to consider dedicating more funds to targeted tax reform. In fact, according to a new Florida Chamber poll, 72 percent of voters support a reduction of the Communication Services Tax.

The House tax relief package was approximately $690 million during the Regular Session, but has since been reduced to approximately $436 million because of budget concerns stemming from other issues, such as healthcare reform.

Today’s passage of the House Finance and Tax Committee’s tax relief package (HB 33-A) is just the first step, however, as the entire House and Senate must ultimately agree on the content and amount of such legislation during the Special Session.

The Florida Chamber is pleased with today’s vote and will continue to advocate for targeted tax reform that puts money back into the pockets for Florida’s small businesses and families. We will share updates and insights on this subject in the near future.


Lakeland Regional Health’s School of Radiologic Technology Re-Accredited Through 2022

Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center’s School of Radiologic Technology has been awarded re-accreditation through 2022 for its certificate radiography program by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). This peer evaluation promotes excellence in education and enhances the quality and safety of patient care at Lakeland Regional Health.

“Students at our School of Radiologic Technology interact on a one-on-one basis with their instructors and are exposed to many radiologic disciplines they wouldn’t necessarily experience elsewhere,” said Janet Fansler, DNP, RN, CENP, Lakeland Regional Health Executive Vice President and Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nurse Executive. “We are proud that our school and our dedicated team members have earned this well-deserved re-accreditation.”

The JRCERT is the only agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for accreditation of traditional and distance educational programs in radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance and medical dosimetry.

Students at Lakeland Regional Health’s School of Radiologic Technology, founded in 1965, acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for professional competence through a blend of classroom and clinical education. Students complete didactic and clinical components for Radiography and Computed Tomography (CT). The education received at Lakeland Regional Health allows students to complete The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists requirements for national certification exams in both Radiography and CT in the traditional two-year timeframe.

Criteria for accreditation include adequate talent, physical and financial resources; sufficient assessment system; proper student preparation for professional practice.

“We are so pleased that our School of Radiologic Technology is being recognized with re-accreditation,” said Mack Reavis, MD, Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center President and Lakeland Regional Health Chief Medical Officer. “Our graduates are wonderful examples of how Lakeland Regional Health is advancing the future of healthcare.”

Information about the Lakeland Regional Health School of Radiologic Technology can be found at


Lakeland Electric Fuel Decrease

Yesterday, the Lakeland City Commission voted to decrease the fuel charge for Lakeland Electric customers $1.00 per 1,000 kWh effective for meters read on or after July 1, 2015.  The new fuel charge will be $44.85 per 1,000 kWh.

After listening to a presentation at the Monday, June 1st Utility Committee meeting, staff recommended a decrease to the current fuel charge based on fuel forecasts.


Current                        New Rates – Effective July 1, 2015

Base Charge    $  59.64                       $  59.64 (includes environmental charges)

Fuel Charge     $  45.85                       $  45.85 (includes fuel decrease)

TOTAL:             $105.49                       $104.49

The base rate includes environmental compliance charges that are directly related to federal and state initiatives regarding clean air and water mandates. Most of the expenses are related to energy production and include air emission controls, water quality monitoring and capital spending for equipment necessary to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act.

Lakeland Electric bills are broken out for customer convenience in detail to show the base charge, fuel charge and appropriate taxes and service charges.  The fuel charge on a utility bill is exactly that, the actual costs for fuel used to generate the amount of electricity used within your residence.  Most utilities subscribe to the same billing practice and break out the base rate and the fuel charge for their customers. There is no mark-up in fuel.  In fact, fuel is a straight pass-through charge to customers.

Based on Florida Municipal Electric Association data, Lakeland Electric’s residential rates after the July 1, 2015 fuel charge decrease will be the continue to be one of the lowest in the state. Visit for more information and to see a residential rate comparison.


Creating Jobs by Diversifying Florida’s Economy Means Marketing Florida’s Business Climate Nationwide

For a more competitive Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce supports marketing Florida’s “Perfect Climate for Business.”

Governor Rick Scott and many leaders in the Florida Legislature and in the private-sector deserve credit for making Florida’s business climate more competitive and attractive. However, decision makers in other states won’t know about Florida’s progress in education, regulatory reform or tax cuts if we don’t aggressively tell the Florida story.

Did you know, Florida has a $77 billion state budget, but hasn’t invested in branding and marketing campaigns in target states? Yet, other states spend the following:

  • California: $50 Million
  • Connecticut: $27 Million
  • Michigan: $25 Million
  • New York: $140 Million
  • Texas: $21.2 Million

Currently, Enterprise Florida does not receive state funding to market Florida as a business destination. The Florida Chamber, along with several partner organizations, are advocating the Florida Legislature to dedicate at least $20 million in annual funding to continue marketing Florida’s business brand to out-of-state companies.

For those of you who have already joined us in the arena to fight for free enterprise, we thank you. The battle for free enterprise continues during special session and we appreciate your support. Contact me at or (850) 521-1235. Remember, when the Florida Chamber wins, Florida wins. When Florida wins, America wins.