Florida TaxWatch has been a leader in making sure residents of the Sunshine State have access to affordable health care options, saving millions of dollars and countless lives.
Lawmakers are considering two TaxWatch recommendations to eliminate barriers to 21st century solutions to help Floridians enjoy longer, healthier lives.
One change would reduce the limits on “telehealth” - the use of technology to expand access to all Floridians. More and more health-care providers are offering everything from routine visits to critical post-operative check-ups via computers, telephones, and smartphone apps.
Allowing Floridians to get world-class medical care can avoid costly visits to the doctor or hospital while saving time and money. Critical follow-up care for more severe health issues is more easily accessed via telehealth, promoting quicker recoveries and avoiding expensive hospital and emergency room visits. And telehealth allows Floridians in every corner of the state to have better access to all types of primary and specialty health care regardless of their proximity to doctors and hospitals.
Telehealth options promote incredible savings by providing immediate help and avoiding costly emergencies later. Just a simple 1 percent reduction in Medicaid costs would save Florida taxpayers more than $220 million. And a 1 percent reduction in hospitalizations would save Florida families and businesses more than $1.2 billion annually.
The second TaxWatch proposal lawmakers are considering is expanding the scope of practice for the state’s 15,000 advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs). Freed from short-sighted legal barriers, ARNPs could provide up to 80 percent of the primary care needs for Florida patients. These nationally certified professionals have extensive training, and allowing them to provide efficient and thorough care for basic health-care needs would provide quicker, more accessible pathways to health for all Floridians.
All 49 other states have taken steps to reduce restrictions on ARNP scope of practice. Allowing ARNPs in Florida the same freedom to serve would save Floridians up to $44 million per year in Medicaid costs alone and up to $339 million across the entire health care system by providing prompt care before small problems become more serious with costly visits to hospitals and specialists.
Floridians cannot afford to wait any longer for common sense improvements to the health care system. We applaud lawmakers for considering these simple yet critical changes to add value for the hard-working taxpayers and improving the physical, mental and fiscal health of our state.
Dominic M. Calabro is the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, the state’s premier independent government watchdog group.
Featured in Sunshine State News.