South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday November 24, 2020

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February 2015 - Volume 11 - Issue 8


Lincoln Mendez Assumes Role of South Florida Hospital & Healthcare Association Chair

The start of 2015 marks a fresh beginning for the South Florida Hospital & Healthcare Association (SFHHA) as Lincoln Mendez, CEO of South Miami Hospital, takes over as chairman. As part of Baptist Health South Florida, South Miami Hospital has been a longstanding member of the 71-year-old association. Mendez joined the SFHHA Board five years ago soon after becoming CEO of South Miami Hospital.

“I got involved because it’s a wonderful not-for-profit community entity that works closely with healthcare organizations throughout South Florida to make sure we are being heard,” says Mendez, who previously served as vice chair the past two years. “It’s a good venue to express the concerns your healthcare organization is facing. We’ve been fortunate to have the association around for over 70 years now. That’s impressive.”
While every market is unique with its unique circumstances, Mendez says the goal of the board of directors is to ensure all the voices of healthcare organizations in South Florida—including hospitals, nursing homes, and home health care companies—are aligned so it can collectively formulate strategies to help its members, especially on the legislative side.
“That’s what the association brings to the table—they coordinate all of these activities dealing with the right people in Tallahassee to make sure our elected officials understand what our concerns are in this particular market,” he says.
Certainly, there are a number of challenges facing South Florida healthcare organizations in the year ahead. The biggest challenge, according to Mendez, is expanding healthcare coverage across the state of Florida.
“Right now, there’s an opportunity to expand it where you can cover the lives of nearly one million more people in our state if the legislature comes up with some kind of process to do that,” says Mendez. “That’s going to be a challenge on the legislative side but I think it’s the right thing to do in the state.”
In fact, the SFHHA is supporting Florida Hospital Association’s A Healthy Florida Works (AHFW), a coalition of business owners, chambers of commerce, community leaders, organizations and individuals who support the extension of health care coverage in Florida.
Although expanding healthcare coverage to the uninsured is a primary focus, Mendez says the association will also work with the legislature on a few other issues as well. With a shortage of physicians statewide, the SFHHA will continue to encourage state lawmakers to eliminate the practice restrictions of advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs). With about 15,000 ARNPs in the state, allowing them to practice to the extent of their training can significantly reduce the burden on today’s physicians. Currently, Florida is the only state in the country that doesn’t allow its ARNPs to open a practice.
Technology will also be at the forefront for the association and its members, particularly telemedicine. Under Florida’s 1915 (b) Managed Care Waiver, telemedicine is provided but limited to certain state plan covered services, and is only provided to Medicaid eligible children enrolled in the Children’s Medical Services Network who reside in underserved areas of the state.
“We believe the state should require health insurers to cover services provided through telemedicine,” says Mendez.
State Senator Arthenia Joyner is sponsoring a bill requiring reimbursement for remote consultations with allowable co-pays and deductibles. Previous bills requiring private insurers to cover telehealth services have failed.
The association will also continue its push to get guns banned from hospitals and nursing homes in the state. The SFHHA has been championing this ban since 2000. Currently, concealed weapons are prohibited in schools, government buildings, athletic events, bars and other businesses licensed to sell alcohol under Florida law.
“There are going to be many challenges in 2015 and that’s why it will be important for us to work with our elected officials to make sure we’re addressing the overall healthcare needs of the community,” says Mendez. “That should be everyone’s priority.”
Finally, Mendez hopes to see its membership increase in size.
“One benefit of joining and getting involved is the variety of healthcare organizations you will interact with,” he says. “You can get information from many different perspectives and receive input from a variety of people you normally wouldn’t interact with during the course of a day. What better way is there to formulate a plan to address any issue you're facing than from that?”
In addition, Mendez notes that most challenges facing healthcare organizations are similar and there is strength in numbers. “If we go to Tallahassee on behalf of our current members, how much more powerful would it be if we had a group 3 or 4 times the size it is now? That would be a very powerful voice.”


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