By Bradley Osburn
U.S. Representative Ted Yoho (Florida District 3) visited North Florida Regional Medical Center on Friday to take a tour of its recently completed $62 million Phase IV Expansion and discuss the coming changes to health care under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly called Obamacare.
“Health care is on everybody’s mind, and what we’re here to do is gather information from health care experts and take this back to Washington to incorporate it into a replacement health care bill to fix the health care delivery system,” Yoho said.
“What we’re seeing is people are reeling back,” he said. “And you hear corporate America saying, like the CEO of Hardees is saying, they’re going to put people on part time.”
Putting employees on a part-time schedule would be a way to skirt around the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers with 50 or more full-time workers provide health insurance. The fear is that such a move will cost too much and create an unfair situation for companies with 51 employees to have to compete with companies with only 49 employees.
Yoho said that the focus of the conversation needs to be on creating jobs and keeping the health care industry as privatized as possible.
“We are a free enterprise system. We are the kind of people that depend on self-reliance,” he said. “But I will say this: there is a need for a safety net. We’re always going to need to take care of people that can’t take care of themselves, but I think this is the wrong way.”
Dr. Gary Gillette, medical director of emergency services at North Florida, said that while everybody is spending time talking about insurance reform, nobody is talking about malpractice reform.
“So you have some of our doctors coming in at night taking care of these people, who might not be insured, but the doctors still come in and provide that standard of care that the community requires,” he said. “But not only do they not get paid for it, a year down the line you might get a lawsuit that says something happened that they thought was not good care. It’s hard keeping people on staff when 20 percent of the people you see aren’t going to pay.”
Ward Boston III, president and CEO of North Florida, requested that legislators streamline what he called often-contradictory regulations that the hospital must adhere to.
Yoho touted an upcoming bill by Representative Tom Price, H.R. 2300, as a replacement for the Affordable Care Act that features, he said, effective malpractice tort reform. In addition, he revealed that he has formed a regulatory working group with Representative Doug Collins out of Georgia to overhaul medical regulations.
Yoho recently voted in favor of H.R. 2667 and H.R. 2668, bills that delay both the employer and individual mandates for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act until 2015.
For its part, the Obama administration pushed the employer mandate back, two weeks prior to the House bill votes, to the beginning of 2015, delaying it by a year in order to provide more time for a smoother transition.