South Florida Hospital News
Monday May 27, 2019

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February 2006 - Volume 2 - Issue 8




Representative Eleanor Sobel Addresses the SFHEF

Politics and healthcare made, indeed, appropriate bedfellows at the 2006 Annual Installation Dinner and Awards Ceremony of the South Florida Healthcare Executive Forum held recently at the Wyndam Miami Beach Resort. Representative Eleanor Sobel (Broward County) was the keynote speaker and provided an overview of her topic: Medicaid Reform.

"I voted against the Medicaid Reform bill," she says, "because the new program is an experiment in two counties – Broward and Duval – which will affect 200,000 people out of 2.3 million Florida residents." She believes that the two-county limitation is a good thing but questions the overall implications for the rest of Floridians.

According to Sobel, "Broward County has the infrastructure in place to accommodate the Medicaid model for reform with several primary healthcare clinics and provider service networks, but the planned expansion to the rest of the state is problematic due to the lack of provider service networks, managed care organizations and physicians in rural areas throughout Florida. The primary justification for reform has been the rising costs of Medicaid."

Sobel agrees that the costs need to be slowed down, but not at the expense of services to needy individuals.

"Costs in the Medicaid pilot are not expected to decline in the first two years. For the remainder of the pilot’s three years, with a cap in place, the costs will be kept flat at a sum agreed upon by Florida and the Federal government in the 1115 waiver. We also know that the cost to administer private health insurance has grown to 13-15 percent and to administer the government-run Medicaid program is 4 percent." Because of this, she cautions that services will be cut out for Medicaid recipients when managed by the private sector in order to pay for administrative costs.

When voting against the plan, she says that she "also considered the importance of a spending cap in relation to Florida’s population growth, considering 1,000 new people arrive each day."

She also adds "Medicaid’s fraud and abuse – which account for 5-20 percent of the Medicaid budget -- will not necessarily be reduced by managed care groups."

"At the end of each day," she says, "I know that business needs to make a substantial profit in order to stay in business, which leads me to believe that doctor’s visits will be limited – along with needed life sustaining services. Pushing Florida’s Medicaid recipients into a for-profit company’s care is not a solution and will likely cause more problems, leading to more emergency room visits."

Medicaid aside, Rep. Sobel believes the most vital issue facing health care today is obesity.

"Combating obesity in both children and adults is necessary for improving lives and healthcare costs. Education about proper diet and exercise from a young age can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and many other chronic diseases that over- burden today’s healthcare providers."

She adds, "Better diet and a focus on simple preventive methods – as described in "Healthy People 2010" – are simple solutions to averting a future healthcare crisis. But the rising cost of health care needs to be addressed. Health insurance needs to be affordable. But through prevention and healthy lifestyles, costs will not continue to rise as sharply."

She feels that most important legislation enacted during her term were the landmark funding of an epidemiological study of Crohn’s and Colitis Disease in Florida – the only state to undertake such a study. Sobel is also very proud of increasing the panel of screening to 30 for Florida newborns as well as the cap on malpractice insurance claims which encourages more physicians to practice in Florida and keeps insurance rates stable.

As the keynote speaker at the SFHEF dinner, Rep. Sobel praised the efforts of both the South Florida Healthcare Executive Forum and the ACHE.

"These organizations represent the important needs and interests of health executives. As a member of the healthcare family, you are often on the front lines and know what patients need to stay healthy and live productive lives. Communicating frequently with your elected officials will lead the way to better government understanding of your important issues."

The SFHEF also gave special recognition to Zeff Ross, FACHE, American College of Healthcare Executives’ Regent for Southern Florida and Administrator for Memorial Hospital West (see opposite page).

Sponsors of the dinner included: Barry University, Baptist Health South Florida, BCBS of Florida, Clean Image, Economic Opportunity Family Health Center, Florida International University, Humana Inc., MedLab, Memorial Healthcare System, Merrill Lynch & American Century Investments, Morrison Healthcare Food Services, Plantation General Hospital & Westside Regional Medical Center, Ritter Foundation and St.

Thomas University.

The SFHEF – for more than 32 years -- has provided educational programs to thousands of healthcare executives interested in staying informed about the most contemporary issues facing their institutions. The Forum has also served as a venue for seasoned professionals to help individuals at the beginning of their careers better understand the healthcare delivery system.

For more information about the Forum, visit
To contact Representative Sobel and her initiatives, e-mail her at
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