JACKONVILLE, Fla. - The first-of-its-kind health care conference will be held at Jacksonville University on Wednesday. Health care experts, providers, policy makers and elected officials will discuss the Affordable Care Act.
The meeting titled "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in Florida: The Exchanges and Proposed Medicaid Expansion," is open to the public.
They will discuss the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the state and the issues facing everyone who still needs coverage. They will focus on the newly opened insurance exchanges and the proposed expansion of Medicaid coverage.
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, Speaker of the House Will Weatherford and several CEOs from local hospitals are expected to attend the meeting.
Rick Mullaney, Director of the JU Public Policy Institute said the issue is a hot topic, no matter your political affiliations.
"You can be interested in foreign affairs, you can be interested in the Keystone Pipeline but everybody is interested in health care. Health care affects every single person in this country. It's not abstract, it's not remote it affects you and your family," said Mullaney.
Mullaney said the federal government and state of Florida need to work together. He expects a number of speakers to address that at the conference.
The conference is especially timely given all the challenges with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act that launched October 1st. President Obama's administration hoped to enroll over 7 million by March of 2014.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said new enrollment numbers being released this week will be "lower than we hoped and we anticipated."
Mullaney said all the issues with the website and enrollment prompted the meeting.
"As well all know with this roll out its been a little bit bumpy so far. It's generated a great deal of interest and confusion and we're hoping this policy conference will play a very constructive role in shaping pubic policy," said Mullaney.
The Florida legislature is expected to address the new health care policy during its next session. That begins March 4th.
Mullaney said the leaders who are attending, including Senate leaders and the CEO of Florida Blue, all will have very different opinions about the best option for the state.
"Expect some different opinions, expect some different policy considerations. That's healthy,' said Mullaney.
Registration for the conference is open at 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday. The first session begins at 8:30 a.m at JU's Terry Concert Hall. The event ends at 3 p.m.
The public is invited to attend but space is limited. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early or call 904-256-7053 to see if there's space. For more information visit www.JU.edu/PPI.
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