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House poised to pass comprehensive health care package

Florida House on Capitol Hill
Florida House on Capitol Hill

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The House is expected to pass its comprehensive healthcare reform package on Thursday.

Florida’s House Speaker Jose Oliva has vowed to end what he calls the “Health Care industrial complex." Oliva said if hospitals faced more competition, their prices would be forced to come down.

“It is time for us to bring real reform,” Oliva said. "We are now spending almost as much on health care as we are spending on all other things combined.”

To prove his point, Oliva brought in healthcare researcher Chris Pope to brief House members on Wednesday.

“Hospital costs are enormous,” said Pope.

Pope likens current local hospitals to small scale monopolies.

“It's important to support these hospitals, and it's important to support access to essential care, but we need to have accountability for this,” said Pope. "Just handing over money and market power and trusting hospitals are going to put the money where we want them to put the money -- that hasn't worked out very well.”

Another idea being pushed in 2019 would expand the scope of duties advanced registered nurse practitioners could perform without supervision from a doctor.

The bill is facing opposition from some doctors, who say the expertise that doctors bring is essential to ensure quality care.

"Most challenging diagnosis in family medicine are those in early undifferentiated stages when there are often only subtle difference between a serious and minor ailment,” said Orlando Doctor Nikita Shah.

Bill sponsor Rep. Carey Pigman says 22 other states have already made the change without seeing any problems.

“So this is sort of calling it on the table,” said Pigman. "If we've not seen a benefit, there's not some measurable benefit from the supervision, why do we tolerate any of the cost?”

While hospital reforms are moving quickly through the House, there are signs of trouble in the Senate, which nearly killed a bill that would make it easier for new hospitals to come to an area earlier this week.