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Lawmakers, Stakeholders Converge On Orlando For Health Care Summit

A first of its kind Health Care Summit is underway, and hundreds of people all around the nation are expected to weigh in on Florida’s health care system. The business group Associated Industries of Florida is hosting the 2013 Florida Health Care Affordability Summit for two days in Orlando.

The first day of the summit had a jam-packed schedule with panels throughout the day followed by a reception with Georgia Congressman Tom Price as its keynote speaker. The Republican serves on the Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

And, Associated Industries of Florida President Tom Feeney says that committee virtually coordinates all health care policy, which is why Price can provide the summit with their perspective on the Federal Affordable Care Act.

“It’s a Republican majority and of course, they often have different views than say the majority in the United States Senate, which means Democratic and President Barack Obama," said Feeney.

"So, it will be important to get an update in terms of what the federal U.S. House of Representatives expects for the impacts of states on health care policy from Washington.”

Throughout the two-day event, state lawmakers are the moderators for all the panels, including Senator Joe Negron, who’s in charge of the Senate Budget committee on Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act. There’s also Senate Appropriations Chair for the Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, Denise Grimsley.

Feeney says while all the lawmakers moderating a panel are all Republicans, a variety of state lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, are attending the summit.

“The elections are over," remarked Feeney. "It’s now time for serious minded policymakers to sit down together and talk about the options and challenges in building an affordable, quality, and accessible health care system that all Floridians can participate in.”

And, Feeney says the summit will provide a forum for lawmakers to look at ways to implement the federal health care overhaul law.

“One of the more difficult challenges is how we provide coverage to all Floridians. There are over 1-million Floridians that don’t have health insurance and we have hundreds of thousands or more that may be don’t have adequate access to the health care system," said Feeney.

"So, some of the discussions will revolve around some of the technological advances that can  deliver better quality and cheaper health care to Americans.”

Feeney says his group is also providing a perspective from an employer’s standpoint, and says health care is critical to every employer and citizen of Florida.

That’s why following the summit, Feeney says AIF will be developing an agenda with its legislative priorities for this upcoming session, with health care as one of its main priorities.

The Summit is at the World Center Marriott in Orlando. It started Thursday and ends Friday afternoon. 

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.