Cary Pigman: Emergency Room Doctor Prepared to Take a Scalpel to Obamacare Exchanges

By: Eric Giunta | Posted: January 8, 2013 3:55 AM
Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park
Cary Pigman

Date of Birth: Nov. 1, 1958
Birthplace: Mount Vernon, Ohio
Residence: Avon Park
Education: Ohio State University College of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine, 1980-1983; Naval Hospital in Oakland, Calif., Rotating Internship in General Surgery, 1983-1984; George Washington -- Georgetown Universities, Residency in Emergency Medicine, 1989-1992, Chief Resident, 1991-1992
Occupation: Emergency medicine physician
Previous Public Office(s): None.
Family: Wife
Did you know? Is an avid motorcyclist; rides a Ducati 750 Super Sport

District 55's new representative is an emergency medicine doctor who says his experience has prepared him to tackle one of the key issues facing the Florida Legislature in the upcoming session: the state's implementation of Obamacare.

Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, is certainly not alone in that estimation. Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford has tapped the navy and army veteran military doctor, who just recently completed a tour of duty in Iraq, to sit on every committee assignment Pigman requested of him, including the Health & Human Services Committee, the Healthy Families Subcommittee, and the high-profile Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).

Not surprisingly, he’s also been selected to sit on the Veteran & Military Affairs Subcommittee and the Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee, the last a natural fit given the importance of citrus, cattle, and dairy cultivation in his district, which includes all of Glades, Highlands, and Okeechobee counties and the western part of St. Lucie.

“I feel a lot like the college student who got every single class he asked for at matriculation time; I got every one I requested,” Pigman tells Sunshine State News. “I especially view it as almost providential that I should be so blessed as to be a physician coming into the House for the first time and being placed on this [select] committee [on Obamacare].”

Asked what route the state should go in implementing the controversial healthcare law, Pigman echoes the voices of other Republican freshmen who have been interviewed for this series, suggesting that opposition is now effectively off the table and focus needs to be placed on applying the law in a way most beneficial to Floridians.

“Some people may think that Republicans may just want to torpedo this deal,” he tells the News. “But I can assure you that what I’m getting from House leadership is that all of us are working together to get the best possible deal we can for the state of Florida.”

Pigman says he’s inclined to support the state establishing its own health insurance exchanges rather than leaving it to the federal government – “I say that from the perspective of a prejudice for trying to keep as much [state] control as possible” – but said the Obama administration needs to be more forthcoming in detailing just what state establishment, or even a state-federal hybrid, would entail.

“We’re not in this to torpedo it,” he insists. “We’re trying to make this work.”

Pigman tells the News he is proposing at least two pieces of legislation in the coming session. The first is a companion bill to one filed by Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, which would require physicians to screen newborns for critical congenital heart disease, an additional screening to the 37 they are already required to perform (unless parents register their objection in writing).

Another bill he plans to propose is one which would exempt “direct support organizations” (DSOs) – nonprofits organized to administer property and/or funds for a state college or university -- from Florida’s sunshine laws. He says such exemptions are needed in order to protect trade secrets of private companies that enter into contracts with these organizations.

“It may happen that private organizations or businesses that are looking to conduct joint research with our institutions might be using devices, medicines, or instruments which are under trademark or proprietary ownership,” Pigman explains. “If DSOs were covered under sunshine laws that, for example, county commissioners are covered under in their meetings, those secrets would be open to everyone and it would stifle those companies’ desire to partner in research with our research institutions.”

Pigman, who has no prior experience serving in elected office, tells the News he was inspired to run for his seat by the example of then-Representative, and now-Senator, Denise Grimsley of Sebring, who worked with Dr. Pigman in her capacity as a registered nurse.

“I was just so impressed at how well-informed and careful and considerate she wasm and I thought to myself, that’s probably because of good people like her that state business gets done,” Pigman relates. 

Grimsley suggested Pigman should run for her House seat while she pursued her Senate run.

“Since I was blessed with health and a career in medicine and my schedule is so flexible, I came to the conclusion that if I guy like me can’t do it, who did I expect to do it?” Pigman says. “That’s what brought me to where I am now.”

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at (954) 235-9116.

Comments (5)

2:09PM JAN 16TH 2013
I believe that Obamacare is unconstitutional and there should be no attempts to help this unconstitutional law get implemented in any way. It is an unconstitutional tax and just because a Quisling Supreme Court judge rewrote the law so he could go along with it does not make it constitutional.
Living in Alachua County, with it's socialist government which regularly flaunts Sunshine State laws, and has a state prosecutor who empowers such flauntations by doing nothing, I am not at all inclined to approve of any state organization being allowed to fore-go upholding any Sunshine State laws. I don't agree with letting colleges make behind the scenes deals with state funds.
john wright
9:29AM JAN 9TH 2013
Good man and right for the job!
1:55PM JAN 8TH 2013
Thank you for your service Doctor, you will make an excellent Representative!
Pamela Bradshaw
12:39PM JAN 8TH 2013
Keep as much control as possible out of the hands of the federal government, when they get involved it becomes a bureaucratic nightmare.....remember the old joke of I am from the federal government and I'm here to help you?.....YEAH RIGHT, slam the door!
My husband and I have met you and respect you and are praying that you use your knowledge and common sense to represent and if necessary FIGHT for the people of not only Florida but our entire country (by setting a new example)..of thinking about the common man/woman who goes to work everyday and can't know everything that is going on. May GOD bless you and keep his hand on your shoulder to remind you why you are there. As a public servant and not to serve yourself, like so many before you seem to have done. Best wishes to you Cary.....we pray every day for you.
Bonnie VanSickle
11:16AM JAN 8TH 2013
First of all thank you for your military and medical service. And I do appreciate your mention that your purpose is NOT to toepedo deals. I am just so upset with the past congress that has done nothing, that I am for the first time paying CLOSE attention, and I am so hopeful our government officials in no matter what branch they serve, or what party they serve, or if it's federal or state, will start to work together and move our country forward.

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