The Government Relations Department at Orlando Health serves to advance the organization’s public policy agenda by monitoring healthcare legislation and strengthening relationships with local, state and federal elected officials and agencies. Read below to learn about the state and federal issues that are most important to Orlando Health.
Orlando Health’s Advocacy Action Center provides team members and supporters with important information on healthcare issues. Click here to get involved with our advocacy efforts or learn more about the following:
- Issues and legislation – tracking of issues and legislation on the state and federal levels
- Letter writing – sample letters for communicating on important issues
- Contact information – local, state and federal elected officials
- Tips and strategies – communicating with elected officials
- Advocacy network – sign up and receive email alerts on issues of importance to Orlando Health.
Contact Michelle Strenth, director of Government Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
On June 29, 2012 the healthcare industry landscape made a historical change as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Along with being upheld, states were given flexibility in deciding whether to allow for the expansion of the Medicaid program. Under the ACA, people under the age of 65 would generally qualify for Medicaid if their income was less than or equal to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. At this time, it is unknown if Florida will participate in the expansion, and as a result, the Government Relations team is monitoring this issue closely.
Over the past few years, the security of Medicaid funding and the programs it supports have been vulnerable at the state level. Medicaid funding takes up about 43 percent of the state’s Health and Human Services budget with the majority of funding going to provide service to Medicaid recipients. Needless to say, when legislatures are looking to balance the budget, Medicaid reimbursement rate cuts are always considered. Read below for our key healthcare priorities at the state and federal level.
- Medicaid reimbursement rates - Over the past few legislative sessions hospitals received major Medicaid reimbursement rate cuts. If this trend continues Florida’s hospitals may consider cutting certain programs and service lines. In order to continue to meet the healthcare needs of Floridians, Orlando Health supports an end to Medicaid reimbursement rate cuts.
- Mandatory contracting - Currently, the state Agency for Health Care Administration is evolving to a system where managed care organizations (MCOs) will be responsible for the healthcare provided to Medicaid recipients. During the 2012 session, legislation was pushed that would have required hospitals like Orlando Health to contract with Medicaid MCOs regardless of a company’s business practices and management of patient care. This legislation failed, but we expect another push during the 2013 session. Orlando Health firmly opposes any push to mandate contracting.
- Trauma center program - As Central Florida’s only adult and pediatric level I trauma center, Orlando Health does not support any push to dissolve trauma standards as these help ensure quality care is provided statewide. Access to the highly specialized medical care in our trauma center is a vital, yet costly, asset to our community; it costs more than $18 million each year to keep its doors open. Orlando Health supports trauma standards as they are what allow us to provide the safest, most coordinated care to the Central Florida community.
- Medically Needy Program and Meds Aged & Disabled Program - Both of these programs provide vital benefits to the working poor, disabled, pregnant women and some children who have extraordinary, ongoing medical costs due to catastrophic illness or chronic disease. In the past, legislators have proposed cutting these programs in order to balance the budget. If either program were to be eliminated, those in the program would not receive necessary medical care and providers like Orlando Health would face serious financial burdens.
- Howard Phillips Center funding - This center provides medical and mental health treatment to children and families in crisis through the Children’s Advocacy Center (including the Child Protection Team and the Healing Tree), Healthy Families Orange, Teen Xpress and the Development Center for Infants & Children/Early Steps. Howard Phillips Center programs receive state funding to operate and over the past few years, many of the programs have been experiencing cuts. Orlando Health supports protecting these funds in order to ensure children and families in crisis have access to the vital services provided by social service organizations like the Howard Phillips Center.
- Medicaid expansion - In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the ACA gave states the authority to choose whether to expand Medicaid to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Florida has the third-highest number of uninsured residents in the U.S. with approximately 4 million uninsured. There is concern that almost one million uninsured adults – and some with life-threatening illnesses – could be left with limited access to quality healthcare if Florida refuses to offer them health coverage under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Orlando Health supports Medicaid expansion.
- Disproportionate Share Hospital Program - The disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payment adjustment was created to ensure the financial viability of safety net hospitals that shoulder the disproportionate burden of caring for the poor and uninsured. As the ACA is implemented, there will be consecutive reductions to funding for the DSH program. Florida is currently disadvantaged in DSH allotment to size of its uninsured population compared to other similarly situated states. As such, Orlando Health opposes reductions in DSH payments and supports aid for states with low ratios of DSH payments relative to uninsured populations.
- Federal reimbursement rates - Over the past few years, the nation’s hospitals have experienced their share of payment reductions for Medicare and Medicaid patient services. For many Central Florida seniors, Medicare is their primary healthcare insurance, and it is projected that the number of Floridians over the age of 65 will be approximately three times as large in 2030 as it was in 2000. The booming population growth and increasing shortfall in federal reimbursement rates leaves Orlando Health exposed to further financial strain. Orlando Health opposes any cuts to federal Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates.
- Graduate Medical Education - Hospitals train the next generation of physicians through Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs. Hospitals with GME programs receive reimbursements for the costs associated with this program through the Medicare GME program. Orlando Health presently has over 200 resident physicians as part of its GME program. However, legislation created in the mid-1990’s only allows funding for 126 resident positions. With the looming physician shortage, Orlando Health support increasing funding for the number of current residency positions and finding ways to increase the overall number of residency positions.
Read recent articles from the Orlando Health Government Relations staff at our According to Winnie website