2013 Legislative Session Wrapup

SessionWrapUp-1In a challenging session, Local 1991 won on pensions and elections reform, held the line on funding for Jackson, beat back trauma deregulation and pushed for Medicaid expansion. There’s still work to do, including calling for a special session to expand healthcare to 1.2 million Floridians.

Print a quick reference flyer here: SessionWrapUp. For photos from the session, see our Flickr album here.

Members Protect Jackson in Funding Fights

Jackson funding comes from a variety of sources affected by legislative decisions.

This session, changes in hospital reimbursement rates for Medicaid as well as other funding changes were fought right up to the end of session.

The nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals of SEIU Local 1991 stepped up to fight for our patients and our   hospital in Tallahassee.

At some points, Jackson stood to lose huge amounts of money. The compromises that were made prevented the worst of the damage, for a total estimated hit of $8 -$10 million next budget cycle.

Medicaid expansion would have helped, since it was estimated to bring in an additional $35 million a year to JHS coffers.

Trauma  Drama

There was a move made to deregulate trauma centers in the state, which would have opened the floodgates against Ryder Trauma Center. But a hard push by our side turned that around so that essentially we are at  status quo, with new rules being made at the administrative level.

Trauma remains an issue to watch, as local efforts to open new centers may continue to impact Jackson Health System.

Miami Children’s

MCH made a bid for the right to open a ten-bed maternity ward for high-risk pregnancies.

Bill backers were able to sneak this issue onto another bill to get it passed, despite the best efforts of legislators   supporting Jackson.

That move could mean an estimated $30 million annual hit to Jackson.

Medicaid Expansion Denied by Republican Leadership

 Thousands of people and dozens of organizations statewide tried to make the Florida Legislature do the right thing by expanding Medicaid to 1.2 million people.

It sounded like a no-brainer — improve public health, bring $51 billion into the state and create 120,000 new jobs.

But the House leadership just didn’t want to accept federal funds or cover childless adults, so they blocked it — despite our efforts and broad support from the public, the media,  business groups, the Senate and even Gov. Rick Scott.

We won’t forget who did what this session and this issue will be back.

Scott in particular was a big disappointment. He tried to have it both ways by claiming to support expansion without really fighting for it.

We’re calling for a special session and will be updating you as this  issue moves forward.

 Pensions Preserved

 In a bold move to fix what wasn’t broken,  members of the Legislature tried to shrink and destabilize the Florida Retirement System by closing it to new employees .

It came down to the wire, but in the end,  the Senate effectively killed the House bill that would have directed employees to a defined contribution plan instead.

This issue will be back next year.

 Elections Reform

 Some basic reforms were made to the utter mess the Legislature created for voters in 2012.

Possible voting sites were expanded and local elections officials were given the authority to expand days and hours for early voting back up to the 14 days (up from 8 last year).

We’re better off than last year, but still short of the rights we had in 2010. More needs to be done.

 Ethics Reform

 Ethics legislation that became law this session imposes a two-year ban on legislators from becoming executive branch lobbyists, allows the Ethics Commission to initiate investigations.

It also allows elected officials to hold their assets in a blind trust but does not prohibit the trust from investing in companies the officials regulate and increases the time violators can be held accountable for their fines from four to 20 years.

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