TALLAHASSEE -- Warning healthcare spending is a “five-alarm fire,” House Speaker José Oliva opened his first legislative session Tuesday by urging lawmakers to support a slate of priority bills that would substantially deregulate the healthcare market in a bid to curb the state’s costs.
The Miami Lakes Republican, in a brief speech, outlined his wish list of legislative priorities: among them repealing state limitations on building new healthcare facilities, allowing prescription drugs to be imported from abroad and expanding telehealth options for patients.
He also noted concerns about curbing higher education spending, pointing to what he called an “endless appetite of new construction,” and promised to elevate teacher pay. Oliva called for a pared-down budget that would still address ballooning costs from Hurricane Michael’s strike to the Panhandle last fall. Gov. Ron DeSantis, in a record $91.3 billion proposed budget, has called for $1.9 billion in state and federal funds for hurricane recovery.
Oliva challenged House members to exercise what he called the “courage” to pass his healthcare reforms for Floridians, saying “they have entrusted us and empowered us to remedy this crisis.”
“We must engage the consumer so that market forces can apply,” he told members.
Oliva gaveled in the ceremonies amid the pomp characteristic of session opening days: desks blooming with sunflowers and lilies, galleries packed with attendees and the press, a laundry list of introductions for former elected officials.
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