5 Things Florida: Q&A w/ Sen. Shev Jones, Nursing home financial health, Coverage gap


Emily Boerger


We are excited to announce that we recently opened up registration for the 2022 State of Reform Federal Health Policy Conference. The event is coming up on February 17 and will be fully virtual, allowing attendees from across the country to participate!

This conference will feature conversations on federal health policy, innovations in the state-federal relationship, and learning labs for state-level successes. Early Bird Registration rates end tomorrow, so be sure to sign up now if you want to save a few bucks!

Emily Boerger
State of Reform


1. Q&A: Sen. Shev Jones on 2022 priorities

Senator Shev Jones is a member of both the Senate Committee on Health Policy and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. In this Q&A, Jones reflects on the state’s response to the COVID pandemic and outlines his priorities for the 2022 legislative session.

To better serve racial and ethnic minority populations, Jones says he will push for policy next year that will incentivize doctors and nurses to accept Medicaid patients. As part of this effort, Jones says he’s working with Rep. Kamia Brown to amend and expand the Medical Education Reimbursement and Loan Repayment Program. He also says he will focus on legislation to reduce health disparities in sickle cell disease.


2. Lawmakers discuss nursing home financial health and staffing challenges

The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee last week discussed the need for greater financial transparency among nursing homes and other long term care facilities. During the meeting, committee members passed HB 539—which would require nursing homes to annually submit their audited financial experience to the Agency for Health Care Administration—out of committee and on to the full Appropriations Committee.

“We need to see how our money is being spent and the full picture of what’s happening inside of our nursing homes. If we can see where the costs are in nursing facilities, then we can see where funds might be needed,” said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith during the meeting. Health care leaders testified that workforce shortages and staffing costs remain a financial challenge for nursing homes. This issue was also discussed in detail during last week’s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services meeting.

3. Florida researchers explore AI in the ICU

University of Florida Health researchers are working to develop an ICU utilizing artificial intelligence-driven solutions to monitor critical care patients. In this “intensive care unit of the future,” UFHealth says AI systems will operate in the background to collect continuous data from cameras, wearable sensors, noise meters, and other equipment in the room.

Dr. Parisa Rashidi, an associate professor at UF, says the data collection can help providers better monitor patients and facilitate their decision-making. “You also know what the trajectory of the patient is, what type of intervention we can introduce in the environment, or what kind of recommendation we can make to the physicians, the nurses, and the caregiver,” she says. She and her fellow researchers are working on several studies to make this type of ICU a reality.


4. Florida below average on equity measures

A recent study from the Commonwealth Fund finds Florida’s Black, Latinx/Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native populations all rank below the national average on health care metrics. The study evaluated data on 24 different health indicators and established rankings based on health outcomes, health care access, and quality of services.

Florida’s health care system ranked in the 23rd percentile for Black individuals (15% of the state population) and the 38th percentile for Latinx/Hispanic Floridians (27% of the population). These low rankings were driven in part by higher-than-average rates of adults who went without care due to costs, and comparatively low vaccination rates. The health system was above average for white Floridians, who ranked nationally in the 67th percentile.


5. Health provisions in the BBB plan

The US House passed the Build Back Better Act last month, sending the roughly $2 trillion spending proposal over to the Senate. In this piece, State of Reform Columnist Jim Capretta breaks down some of the health policy items—such as Medicare coverage for hearing services and extended enhanced ACA premium assistance—that made it into the plan.

In another recent column, Capretta takes a closer look at provisions in the BBB plan that aim to close the coverage gap. He writes: “The individuals who now are ineligible both for Medicaid and ACA subsidies would be enrolled into private plans offered on the exchanges, with the federal government paying the full cost of their premiums and most of their cost-sharing too.”