Proposed legislation would reward Floridians for finding cheaper medical procedures

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) – You could soon be rewarded for shopping around for less expensive medical procedures. Newly-proposed legislation would create a pathway for patients to cut their insurance costs by shopping around.

Nearly half of the state’s annual budget goes to health care. Republican lawmakers say the rising costs for both the state and consumers is the result of a lack of competition in the marketplace.

“We have to bring in some real market forces into it so that people have to compete for that business,” said Representative and Speaker of the House Jose Oliva.

A new proposal aims to incentivize patients to shop for the lowest cost procedures. It would allow insurance companies to return 25 percent or more of the money policyholders save by finding cheaper options.

Those savings could then go towards paying off policyholders’ premiums or future health care costs.

“It’s a chance to actually spend a few minutes and save money and put money in your pocket and who wouldn’t do that?” Representative Paul Renner said.

Other proposals include importing cheaper Canadian drugs and encouraging certain medical procedures to be conducted outside of hospitals, where costs are higher.

“You put all those together and we start to see a better market, a lower cost for Floridians while improving access and maintaining the high quality that we have in the state,” said Representative Renner.

One piece Democrats say is missing from Republicans’ health care fixes: Medicaid expansion.

Senator Annette Taddeo said, “All the polling has shown Floridians support the expansion of Medicaid.”

Democrats are pushing a constitutional amendment to put Medicaid expansion on the 2020 ballot.

“We’re leaving money at the table, money that we send to the federal government that should be coming back to cover approximately 800,000 Floridians,” said Senator Taddeo.

In addition to the Democrats’ amendment in the Legislature, there’s also citizen’s initiative collecting signatures that could put the question of Medicaid expansion before voters in 2020.

Originally posted on WJHG Newschannel 7 by Jake Stofan.