Volume 1 Number 24
June 14, 2004











TEXT-ONLY VERSION

 Links of Interest

 

Small Employer Benefit Plan

 

 

Health Coverage Tax Credit


GOVERNOR BUSH SIGNS 'AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE FOR FLORIDIANS ACT'

Bill will improve care, increase access to healthcare insurance and enhance transparency. 

Governor Jeb Bush signed House Bill 1629, the Affordable Healthcare for Floridians Act. The legislation will provide increased access to healthcare insurance by creating a more stable and competitive market, raise the quality of care and patient safety and improve transparency by giving consumers the information they need to make the best healthcare choices.  
 

"This bill improves access to affordable health insurance in our state," Governor Bush said. "By signing this legislation, we will open the door to improvements in the health insurance market, create a more consumer driven market and ultimately increase access to healthcare insurance for all Floridians."
 

"We have heard from so many hardworking individuals and small employers who are struggling to obtain, and even maintain, health insurance," said Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who co-chaired the Governor's Task Force. "Signing this healthcare package into law will help employers maximize their insurance purchasing power, offer consumers increased protections and access to health information, and expand coverage options, especially for low-income Floridians." 
 

Governor Bush signed the legislation at the first in a series of town hall meetings. The town hall meetings provide an opportunity for federal and state healthcare experts to educate employers and employees on the new laws regarding Health Saving Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). Bill sponsors Senator Durell Peaden and Representative Frank Farkas joined the Governor and Lt. Governor at the bill signing.
 

The Affordable Healthcare for Floridians Act focuses on three main areas, which are:
 

HEALTH INSURANCE MODIFICATIONS - The bill provides specific ways to make healthcare insurance more affordable and more accessible. It allows for the expansion of the Health Flex program statewide and recreates Florida's high-risk insurance pool for people who would not otherwise have access to insurance. The bill also encourages insurers to offer plans in combination with HSAs and HRAs created by the federal government last fall. HSAs, which operate like Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), allow people to save their own money in an account tax free for use on health related expenses. If the money is not spent, it rolls over and continues to accumulate until age 65 at which time the money can be used for any purpose.

TRANSPARENCY - The bill creates a framework for facilities like hospitals and surgical centers to make information regarding pricing and performance outcomes available to the public as well as written cost estimates to patients before any non-emergency procedure.

PATIENT SAFETY - The bill creates the Florida Patient Safety Corporation, which will collect information from a variety of sources and recommend ways to reduce medical errors. The Corporation will conduct a study of "near misses" and encourage the development of electronic medical records and provide access to a library of evidence based medicine and patient safety practices.
 

Floridians for Health Care Choices, a coalition aimed at promoting new and affordable healthcare options for employers and employees, is sponsoring town hall meetings throughout the state. The meetings today in St. Petersburg and Orlando are the first in a series scheduled across the state this summer to better educate Floridians on the benefits of HSAs and HRAs. Federal and state healthcare experts will give updates on the latest HSA and HRA policies and regulations, and representatives of Florida's leading insurers will be on hand to provide information on specific HSA and HRA products offered in the area at each of the town hall meetings.
 

For more information on the Affordable Healthcare for Floridians Act or the Governor's Task Force on Access to Affordable Insurance, please visit www.myflorida.com. Or for a complete schedule of town hall meetings please visit www.saveforyourhealth.com.