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Florida Hospital CEO calls for legislative deal on health care expansion

Lars Houmann, president and CEO of Florida Hospital, called on state lawmakers in an interview today to put aside their differences and come to an agreement on expanding health coverage in Florida.

“The lawmakers need to be talking to each other,” Houmann said. “They need to work out a deal to cover the uninsured.”

Extending coverage to Florida’s 800,000 uninsured residents will benefit all Floridians, and bolster the state’s economy at the same time, Houmann said.

“This is the most compassionate, sustainable and fiscally prudent approach to addressing the needs of the state’s uninsured population,” Houmann said of expansion, which is currently being debated by state lawmakers in a special legislative session in Tallahassee.

The cost of caring for the uninsured is borne by all Floridians, Houmann added, noting that people who don’t have primary-care physicians are often only able to see the doctor in the emergency room — the most costly alternative.

“Even if you have insurance you are affected,” Houmann said. “Medical bills go up to cover the high cost of care for the uninsured, which translates into higher premiums, higher deductibles and higher co-pays for everyone.”

Without expansion, businesses that subsidize employee health care plans will continue to face an undue burden, leading some companies to cut benefits or even jobs, Houmann said.

If expansion is adopted, money that Floridians are already paying to the federal government in taxes would come back to Florida, instead of being sent to fund health care in other states, Houmann said.

“The compassionate and sensible solution for the uninsured is the right solution for Florida,” Houmann said.