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Florida Hospital Flagler CEO: State Must Extend Medicaid to Working Poor

| January 4, 2014


By Ken Mattison

Health Care reform is a very big issue at the national level. It is also a big issue here in Flagler County. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has not provided financial access to health care for all Florida citizens. These people are the working poor. People below 133 percent of the federal poverty level–about $36,000 for a family of four–do not have health insurance because they cannot afford it. The businesses they work for can also not afford to provide health insurance for their lower-wage workers.

Ken Mattison (Adventist Health Systems)

Ken Mattison (Adventist Health Systems)

Florida still has the opportunity to use federal tax dollars that we have already sent to Washington to help pay the cost of health insurance for those who cannot afford it. In this past legislative session, the Senate (led by Senator Joe Negron) passed a bill that would have drawn down $51 billion in federal dollars for health coverage. These funds would have helped low-income Floridians purchase health insurance through competitive insurance exchanges beginning this year.

However, the State House of Representatives rejected this proposal.

This means that those who could have been helped will continue to lack health insurance. Many will continue to rely upon hospital emergency rooms for their care – with their costs borne by people with health insurance.

The continuation of the working uninsured and the penalties paid by businesses could be avoided if both houses of the state legislature would come together and find a solution. Several states have already done so, including Arkansas, Iowa and Ohio. Their approaches are helping ensure that coverage for the working poor will not become a new entitlement.

Florida, too, should recognize the federal government’s flexibility toward coverage expansion models that extend health coverage to those who cannot afford it. Polling data indicates that a majority of Florida’s citizens support using the taxes we have already paid to help expand health coverage to many of our fellow Floridians. Let’s hope that a majority of our Legislature will agree.

Whatever the State of Florida decides to do during the next legislative session, Florida Hospital Flagler will continue to work with everyone who needs care. Our mission is to help our patients gain knowledge of every available resource.

The healthcare system of the United States is undergoing many changes, and I am so pleased to be guiding an amazing team of leaders who care about our community. From cost-savings partnerships such as our new partnership with Flagler County Schools to our continuing mission to improve quality and services, it is an exciting time. Florida Hospital’s mission is to extend the healing ministry of Christ with skill and compassion–so we are very mindful of what a very big job we have in our community.

Ken Mattison is the CEO of Florida Hospital Flagler.

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15 Responses for “Florida Hospital Flagler CEO: State Must Extend Medicaid to Working Poor”

  1. Mario says:

    First, the term “working poor” is really heartbreaking. To think that we have American’s who work full time, but at the same time are poor, is a disgrace to our Nation. Then, to find that our elected officials intentionally denied them access to health benefits that are available via our Federal Government, is unconscionable. It is obvious that the FL Legislature is incapable of making rational decisions on behalf of the constituents that elected them and as such, must be removed from office for negligence of duty. It is also obvious that the Federal Government must step-in and provide direct access to the funds for those who need them most, so we in Florida become a State of fully insured, in 2014.

  2. Genie says:

    Coverage for the poor won’t become a new entitlement? If the health insurance system must rely on Medicaid, the taxpayers will always foot the bill. We can do better than this.

    Why should a poor family have to accept sub standard insurance? We have been promised a free market and we are not seeing that.

  3. confidential says:

    Why don’t we take away the luscious health care plan these same shameless legislators enjoy forced paid by us all including force paid to them by the meager earned of working poor too?

  4. RHWeir says:

    Agreed, Florida should participate in Medicaid expansion it makes even more sense than the subsidy program and would halt a lot of the uncompensated care and bad debt at the above hospital. Regarding the referenced hospital, I was forced to go to their ER last summer due to a serious injury. Waited around a very long time while I noticed other patients, not as badly injured or not injured at all being seen first. We noted a lady who was in a car wreck shuffled aside while several others, not injured were attended to. I suspect that there are a number of fee for service elderly Medicaid patients using the ER as a PCP and they have no deductibles and no co pays. The ER was on my provider panel, we checked on the way to the hospital. Received a surprise later, the facility is a contracted facility and on panel, the physicians are not. If you go to this hospital, make sure the individual doctor is on your panel, some are not contracting with private insurance. It cost us hundreds of dollars and will not return. I don’t care how sick I am, I’m going north or south to another facility.

  5. ted bundy says:

    there is no excuse for not accepting the your reps, NOW

  6. Otis Wilbury says:

    “Florida Hospital’s mission is to extend the healing ministry of Christ with skill and compassion..”
    That silly slogan even makes its way onto the bills they send you.
    Nowhere in the bible is this “healing ministry” mentioned, furthermore,
    I can’t seem to find the part where Jesus charged for “healing” and what
    insurances he accepted.

    There is a framed print mounted on a (Memorial Flagler) hospital corridor wall where
    someone’s idea of Jesus looks over a doctor’s shoulder. To me it could have been
    Jesus reminding the medical biller to charge 10.00 for an aspirin tablet.

    But at least Mr. Mattison speaks the gospel truth about Medicaid in Florida.
    I like this fellow much more than his predecessor, David Otatti.

    Barring chest pains, all of our family medical emergencies are attended to at Flagler Hospital
    in St. Augustine. A secular hospital that is more “christian” than our hospital in Palm Coast.

    If only our hospital was as good as our paramedics!

  7. Suzy Q says:

    Let’s face it, it’s all about money today. Understood you have to pay nurses and staff but pay a Dr $1200. for giving orders to staff. I guess it’s the price of doing business or paying off his student loan.

  8. barbie says:

    Too many Floridians are falling through the cracks of an unexpanded Medicare and they still have NO INSURANCE. This has to be fixed. It’s ridiculous that it was rejected to begin with. Just one more reason to turn Rick Scott out of office this year.

    • Will says:

      Barbie, I’m not a big fan of our Gov, but he did come around on the issue of playing nice with the Feds on this. The legislature turned him down too.

      • barbie says:

        No, he doesn’t get a pass. It was his decision initially, he caused the problem we’re dealing with now. His “coming around” after the fact doesn’t help the thousands of Floridians from going without health insurance. And now they have to wait that much longer, however long it is.

        It was so easy for him to say no, just to be a tough guy saying “no” to the evil Obama–after all, he and his family are insured, what does he care about the rest of us? What an obscenity.

        • Mario says:

          Yes Barbie … he is an obscene disgrace to the people of our State. I pray we all vote to Ban the Tea Party Terrorists in 2014!

  9. Bunnell Resident says:

    The 51 billion dollars mentioned in the article does not represent “taxes we already paid.” How can it when the federal government borrows 40 cents on every dollar it spends? Add interest on top of the 40 cents borrowed on every dollar and it costs even more. Those states refusing these borrowed dollars are actually doing the nation a favor. The only way to pay for health care is to be a working member of society buying insurance through your employer or privately through competitive markets. The government should only pick up the tab for seniors and for those who are unable to work. Notice I wrote unable. I did not mention unwilling to work. There is an increasing percentage of the population finding more incentive to remain unemployed than to work. What a national disgrace! Now the the federal government is becoming everyone’s “Daddy” it will be increasingly difficult for anyone to remain independent. Just remember you are always beholden to the hand that feeds you. Wake up sheeple.

    • Anonymous says:

      What I really find objectionable is when seniors, who spend much more than they ever put in to entitlements like social security and medicare, speak disparagingly about those who are unemployed receiving unemployment benefits. Seniors often like to point out that they have paid in to social security and medicare while working and, therefore, are entitled to any amount of money to pay their bills forever during their lifetimes, despite how much they actually put in. In fact, some of these seniors, notably women who never worked outside their homes at all, are collecting benefits without having paid in anything. They blithely ignore the fact that people receiving unemployment benefits paid for those benefits out of their paychecks while THEY were working. But a lot of people like to make it sound like people collecting unemployment are receiving some form of welfare that they don’t deserve. Why should able-bodied seniors get a free ride forever, just by virtue of their age, regardless of whether they are in need or not? I guess some people like to think they are entitled to have their cake and eat it too, while others starve.

      • tulip says:

        Anonymous—–Seniors aren’t getting a “free ride” an insurance premium is deducted from their SS check every month and many seniors are also paying for a secondary insurance.

  10. Anonymous says:

    To say you are “standing on principle” by denying life-saving care to other human beings in your State for the sake of a buck and a vote is simply obscene.

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