Gov. Scott's Hospital Funding Group Struggles To Make Sense Of Data

May 20, 2015

Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding
Credit Agency For Healthcare Administration

Governor Rick Scott’s hospital commission is grappling with lots of data and little direction. The group met for the first time Wednesday to try and make sense of a mountain of information.

Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong subtly pushed back against a main criticism of the Governor’s commission on health and hospital funding: lack of experience.

“Collectively, they’ve been responsible for negotiating benefit packages for themselves and thousands of employees in our state. They’ve served on a variety of boards to include a managed care plan, nursing home board, local county boards of college boards, a member who was the chair of the Florida Board of Medicine, and a member who provides pro-bono work to the League against cancer," Armstrong said.

The governor’s commission got a crash course in the data collected by the state and submitted by the hospitals, but is grappling with understanding what the numbers mean. Commission chairman Carlos Beruff is asking the state agency for healthcare administration for help in sorting out the data.

“I get we’re just getting into this, but are you or someone else going to help us dive into this and point us in directions we should be looking? Because we could talk about every single number without knowing whether a number is good or bad.”

And member Tom Kuntz wants to know what the end-game is.

“I don’t know who builds that roadmap but we need to have a bit of a scorecard to guide ourselves with so that we don’t just meet and talk about all the important issues, without understanding where we’re going," he said.

Governor Rick Scott addressed the group by phone at the start of the meeting, but outlined his personal goals for the group when asked by reporters earlier in the day.

“Do we need certificate of need laws? Is that causing prices to be higher than they should? Do we look at price, outcome, patient satisfaction? The retail federation says hospitals should release their prices, like gas stations and grocery stores do. Should we look at that? Should we allow insurance to be sold across state lines, would that help drive down cost so more people will have insurance?

Scott, the hospitals and state lawmakers are at odds over whether to expand Medicaid in the state. The Governor’s goals for his commission may much higher than what commissioners themselves are ready for. The group meets again next week in Orlando to continue sifting through all the information they’ve been given, and try to make sense of the hospital and healthcare funding landscape in Florida.