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Speaker Oliva Focuses on Health Care Choices in Opening Remarks

March 5, 2019 - 12:00pm
Jose Oliva
Jose Oliva

Following are House Speaker Jose Oliva’s remarks, as prepared, on the first day of the 2019 legislative session:

Thank you. I’d like to offer a warm welcome to all that are joining us today. Especially all of our friends and family. It is through their sacrifice and constant support that we can dedicate ourselves to this work, we thank you.

Members, we stand at the threshold of a new legislative session, and with it, endless possibilities. Entrusted in us the authority and confidence of over 20 million Floridians. And with that authority and expectation, an expectation that we will do what we said we would when we first knocked on their door and asked for their vote. What we wrote in our mailers that stuffed their mailboxes and recorded in our political ads that crowded their airwaves. That we would be who we said we would be.

We are blessed to live in the most gifted state in the union. Florida is truly geographically and environmentally gifted. She is all at once Southern and the gateway to the Americas. She is the first stop for families like mine seeking to participate in the American Miracle and the last stop for many settling into their hard-earned retirement. And thanks to the work of past leaders, she is the most fiscally sound and freest state in the union.

But great clouds have formed above us. An eminent financial and human threat. I speak of course of our health care system. Nothing is a great financial threat to the public and private coffers alike as is health care. Today, we spend almost more on health care than we do on all other things combined. Still, hundreds of thousands go without. Many more struggle to afford ever increasing insurance and medication costs. The health care industrial complex receives federal dollars, state dollars, local dollars, and private dollars and still they need more.

Pharmaceutical companies gouge Floridians for their medications, often 10 times what the rest of the world pays, sometimes more. Floridians are depending on us to remedy this crisis. That is why this year we will pass comprehensive health care reform. No single policy will be the solution. A truly comprehensive approach is what is required.

Among these will be, the repeal of the certificate of need which has led to local and regional monopolies. It has stifled competition and led to skyrocketing prices. We will unleash powerful new technologies like telehealth to operate to its full potential. As well as allow highly trained and skilled nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their training. We will empower the patient to be an active participant in their health care choices through health savings accounts and ensure that they will receive accurate and binding estimates for their care. And make it clear that the patient’s records belong to the patient. And we will free state agencies and Floridians alike to purchase medications at the prices the rest of the world purchases them at. This is all within our authority, is it within our courage?

Another area of concern, although admittedly less than the five-alarm fire that is health care, is our state university and college system. Our state university system is considered the best in the nation. Our congratulations to the many dedicated folks who have made this possible. But with our sincere accolades must come the concession that there have been great excesses within the system and a propensity to fill the campuses, build new buildings and grow higher and higher paid administrative staff.

Our college system too has shown these harmful habits with the additional issue of desiring to become 4-year institutions as well. Rising costs are hidden by keeping tuition artificially low through heavy subsidies and students are taking longer to graduate amassing greater debt and starting their professional lives hindered.

This session we will pass higher ed reform. We will adjust how universities receive their funding to incentivize a focused and sustainable system. We will complete the work of performance funding so that the institutions’ best interests are aligned with the students, and we will reform how new buildings are requested and funded. Each new building will require a space-utilization study to justify its need. Every building will require a down payment as well as an escrow account to ensure for its future maintenance. We will seek the same for our college system with additional emphasis on the need for our colleges to focus on the important work of developing workforce programs.

These reforms will ensure the value of a higher education is sustainable and available to future generations.

We can act now and celebrate and preserve the good while freeing the system of its excesses.

In our K-12 system we will continue to lead the nation in empowerment and choice, firm in the belief that a child’s Zip code should not determine the quality of their education and that competition brings out the best in all of our institutions.

And what ties this all together is our budget. Together we will craft a budget that aligns our priorities. That rewards innovation and rejects excesses. A budget that increases teacher pay, gives much needed assistance to our Panhandle brothers and sisters still recovering from a devastating hurricane, funds the Governor’s environmental initiative to preserve our natural, life-sustaining treasures. And we will do it all while lowering per capita spending.

A new session and the opportunity to be who we said we would be. I look forward to working with all of you, with Leader McGhee, with President Galvano and our partners in the Senate, and with our Governor and Cabinet members. Let us begin. Thank you. 


Eliminate certificate of need and allow ambulatory centers additional credentialing for 48 hour stays and you will see surgical costs cut 50% or more within 2 years. Allow carving out of generic prescription insurance and you will eliminate billions of dollars in 'rigged costs" that your insurance and prescription benefit managers are taking from individuals as well as the federal and state budgets. If you want to allow Nurse Practitioners to practice independently (as they seem hell bent on seeking as well) then allow open pricing for services. Let the market decide through free market pricing. This will efficiently sort out your provider resources. This will also sort out the physician demand part of the curve including specialty vs primary care. Oh- and don't forget to let the malpractice burden fall on those independent providers. Ray Kordonowy MD Lee County Florida

Dear Speaker Oliva, Nurse practitioners and Floridians thank you for opening up healthcare access for all Florida with highly experienced, trained and skilled nurse practitioners. 50% of the United States already have Full practice autonomy and Florida could be a leader in this trend. Much respect! Dr. Helene

Special thanks to Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva for taking on the health care issue. I testified before the U.S. Congress in 2005 on the cost of health care and before various Florida legislative groups and at community events. I've discovered that almost all health cares costs are "rigged" and the real cost in most cases is 90 to 95% off the list price or rack rate. For instance a typical list price of an MRI is $ 3,500. But a hospital billing agent will advise one not to worry as'you have a $ 500 deductible. However, one can go to most MRI Clinics and pay cash for $ 250. For things like prescription drugs in most cases one can pay cash, but the pharmacist is usually under a gag order not to tell patients that they can save money by paying cash. Why a gag order? Well with a $ 20 co pay, the drug may only really cost $ 3 and part of the difference is rebated back to the drug wholesaler who monitor pharmacists to make sure that they don't have a lot of customers saving money by paying cash - the wholesalers threaten to take the pharmacist out of their distribution network if the pharmacist isn't playing ball to keep the prices high. The economic result is that heath care now approaching 25% of our economy vs. about 3% for our military. The U.S. has now become a health care insurance company that happens to have an army!. The reality in all of this is that health care cost a lot in the U.S. because there are people and organizations who want prices to be high and for the system to be opaque and confusing. One only needs to look up where major campaign contributions come from for State of Florida Senators and U.S. Senators to see what is going on. The reality is that if one wants to kill legislation adverse to revenue for the health care industry, it is a lot easier to do so in the senate as there are fewer senators to lobby than representatives. Hence, very little ever seems to be done to address the lack of competition and crony capitalism. In most cases all that is happening is that the chairs are being rearranged on the deck of the ship to make it look like something is being accomplished. The Association of Independent Doctors along with the National Federation of Independent Business are working to make a difference, but it is an uphill battle. I suggest whoever wants to make a difference, to call your representative and senator in Florida and in Congress and tell them you've had enough and want to see the issues addressed.

My son needs healthcare, but when we went on-line to sign up, we found out that he is too poor to qualify for the affordable care act. Thank you Rick Scott for NOT accepting the medicaid expansion from the federal government. If we still lived in CT, he would have healthcare. He has a serious pre-existing condition and is suppose get a CT scan every other month and be taking medication, neither of which he can do at this point. In FL, you need to be making 100% to 400% of poverty line to qualify for insurance. This is stupid and dangerous and needs to be changed!

Want to bet we don't get sold out to business again?...……..And on education they should give the freedom, same rules for public education that they let charter schools get away with...………...And stop giving the building, maintaining funds to Charters and none to public last yr......…….And resend all the public school unfunded mandates...…..You tie public schools up in knots on purpose and let Charter not even basic testing to see if they are learning anything.....What's up with that?...….

The only effective "healthcare choice" in Florida is - don't get sick!

Hey,Jose,keep the state out of our healthcare!All you have to do is pass a balanced budget & protect our rights,don't violate them like the last legislature did!


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