On Thursday, during our annual holiday breakfast with the Capitol Press Corps, I was proud to unveil my Live Healthy proposal to strengthen health care in the Sunshine State. Senator Colleen Burton, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Policy, and Senator Gayle Harrell, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services, joined me to announce the Live Healthy package, which includes policies and funding to grow Florida’s health care workforce, increase access to care, and incentivize innovation.
Access to health care is important at every phase of life. Insurance does not guarantee access, as even Floridians with great insurance face barriers to care.
Live Healthy will expand Florida’s health care workforce with new opportunities for education, training and retention. This includes enhancing partnerships between our hospitals and Florida colleges and universities that train health care workers. It also creates more residency slots and creative loan repayment options that drive providers to underserved areas. We want to make sure our medical school graduates stay in Florida and also attract more out-of-state residents – not only for their residencies but to build their lives and medical practices right here in our communities.
We are also funding provider increases that incentivize our health care workers to continue serving in high-demand fields like mental health, labor and delivery, and disabilities.
We know that our hospital emergency rooms are the most expensive real estate in our state. Live Healthy will help streamline emergency departments by creating partnerships with Community Health Centers and other primary care settings so that when care is urgently needed, but not life threatening, it can be provided outside of the hospital emergency room in a more efficient and appropriate setting. Live Healthy also expands access to preventive health screenings to ensure early diagnosis and better management of chronic disease for all Floridians.
Legislation that is part of the Live Healthy package will be considered during the Senate Committee on Health Policy on Tuesday, December 12. Additional legislation will be filed in the coming weeks.
Streamlining Rural Development
Tuesday, Senate Bill 196, sponsored by Senator Corey Simon (R-Tallahassee), passed the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism. Senate Bill 196 removes burdensome restrictions on regional economic development organizations and allows for increased access to rural development funding.
This legislation removes matching requirements on rural development grants allowing for fiscally constrained counties and regions to receive critical funding for economic development without negatively impacting their own finances.
Access to these grants is often limited by a county’s ability to collect taxes from their own citizens. By removing these requirements, we can improve the quality of life in rural communities without the need for burdensome taxes.
Ensuring that Florida’s rural communities have the necessary tools to establish diverse, resilient economies is critically important for the many families, farmers, and family- owned businesses, who call rural Florida home.
Supporting Florida’s National Guard
Wednesday, Senate Memorial 226, sponsored by Senator Tom Wright (R-New Smyrna Beach), passed the Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security. Senate Memorial 226 urges the United States Congress to expand the Florida National Guard’s Force Allocation.
Florida is the 3rd most populous state in the country, yet has only 12,000 soldiers and airmen in our National Guard, a ratio of one guardsman for every 1,833 Floridians. Due to Florida’s active hurricane season and the consistent need for mobilization, it is clear that an increased National Guard Force Allocation is critical to effectively respond to disasters and ensure the safety of Floridians.
In addition to our current needs, Florida’s population continues to rapidly grow, outpacing the nation in net in-migration. This increase in population will only further amplify the issues facing Florida’s National Guard and exacerbate the need for additional guardsman.
The health and safety of Floridians is critical, especially in the face of natural disasters that frequently impact our state. By refusing to expand the Florida’s National Guard Force Allocation, Washington D.C. is playing political games with the health and safety of over 20 million Americans.
Raising Awareness For Opioid Addiction
Tuesday, Senate Bill 66, sponsored by Senator Jason Brodeur, passed the Senate Committee on Health Policy. Senate Bill 66 creates “Victoria’s Law”, raising awareness of the dangers of opioid addiction and to the availability of medical treatments to reverse the effects of opioid overdose.
The opioid epidemic has had a devastating impact on communities across the State of Florida and the entire country. Throughout the first 6 months of 2022, Florida experienced almost four thousand deaths from opioid overdoses. The fentanyl that flows across America’s wide-open southern border is a leading cause of these deaths.
This legislation encourages the Florida Department of Health to hold events to boost attention relating to the dangers of an opioid overdose and how to administer Naloxone, an emergency opioid antagonist better known as Narcan, which reverses the life-threatening effects of opioid overdose. In order to increase awareness, Senate Bill 66 allows the Governor to designate June 6 as Naloxone Awareness Day.
Advancing Florida’s Balanced Budget
Wednesday, a number of state agencies appeared before each Senate Appropriations subcommittee to present the Governor’s recommended budget for the 2024-2025 Fiscal Year.
The Governor’s proposed budget includes historic funding for K-12 Education, significant investments in infrastructure, and critical relief for Floridians struggling with property insurance costs. Additionally, the proposed budget recommends over $1 billion in tax relief for Floridians, dedicates almost $500 million to reduce debt, and maintains $16.3 billion in reserves.
The Governor’s Office will present the proposed budget before the full Senate Appropriations Committee on December 12. The Senate and House will review and consider the Governor’s proposed budget before drafting their own proposed budgets for the 2024-2025 Fiscal Year.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office any time that I can be of assistance.
Kathleen C. Passidomo
State Senator, District 28
3299 East Tamiami Trail
Naples, FL 34112
25 East Hickpochee Avenue
LaBelle, FL 33935
409 The Capitol
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399