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2019 Florida Legislative Session: What Health Care Voters Need to Know


Do you know what is going on in Tallahassee? Now that the mailers, calls, and knocks at your door have gone away, what was the reason all behind it? You voted, people got elected, and that seems to be the end of it. That was only just the beginning.

Florida’s 60-day legislative session began on Tuesday, March 5. What is decided by our state Senators and Representatives in Tallahassee determines what will happen in our communities.

Here is what you need to know about Florida’s 2019 Legislative Session:

Background

Session begins Tuesday, March 5 and ends May 3. The primary purpose of the Legislature is to enact new laws and amend or repeal existing laws. They are only required to pass a budget by the end of the 60-day session. Legislators can call for a special session, if needed.

The Makeup

Florida's executive branch is composed of the governor and lieutenant governor and the cabinet, attorney general, chief financial officer, and commissioner of agriculture. The officials make up the Florida Cabinet, including Governor Ron DeSantis, Lieutenant Governor of Florida Jeanette Nunez, and Agriculture & Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried.

The Legislature is composed of 160 State Legislators (120 in the House and 40 in the Senate). The Senate is made up of 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats, which means neither group holds a majority necessary to pass a bill without help from the other side. The House is made up of 73 Republicans and 47 Democrats.

People to Watch on Health Care

The Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), will be focusing on passing legislation on healthcare and higher education. House Speaker Jose Oliva (R-Miami) will continue to push for sectioning off funds for Medicaid to allow more to go towards private education, and therefore less for healthcare for those who need it most.

Mary Mayhew, the former head of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Service, has been chosen to lead Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). As the secretary of AHCA, Mayhew will replace Justin Senior, who resigned in November to become CEO of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida.

The Senate Health Policy Committee, where a lot of health care issues will be decided, is led by Chair Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) and Vice-Chair Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach).

The House Health & Human Services Committee is led by Chair Ray Rodrigues (R-Estero), Vice Chair Cary Pigman (R-Avon Park), and Democratic Ranking Member Nicholas Duran (D-Miami).

Priority Health Care Issues

Health care is a hot topic every legislative session and this year there are already dozens of proposals being considered by legislators. Here are some of the headlines so far:

  • Governor Ron DeSantis Proposes $91.3 Billion Budget (Tampa Bay Times)

  • Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva Outlines Priorities For Legislature: Health Care And Higher Ed (WLRN)

  • Florida health care transparency efforts measured (Florida Trend)

  • Governor Desantis Announces Plan to Import Canadian Prescription Drugs (Miami Herald)

  • Senator Aaron Bean supports for the elimination of Medicaid retroactive eligibility (News Service Florida)

  • Bill to allow overnight ambulatory surgical center stays moves forward in the Senate (Tampa Bay Times)

  • FL lawmakers advance statewide needle exchange program (Florida Phoenix)

  • Sen. Brandes Bill Would Allow Companies Like Uber And Lyft To Participate In Medicaid Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program (Florida Phoenix)

You can follow health care bills during the 2019 legislative session at the FVH Session Tracker – www.healthyfla.org/flsession

Stay Tuned!

This blog and the others to follow are going to attempt to keep Floridians in the know. Follow Florida Voices on social media or subscribe for the latest updates and calls to action from Tallahassee!

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