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Hospital Leaders Urge Legislators Not to Further Destabilize Florida's Healthcare Landscape
Date:3/11/2008

Eliminating planning for new hospitals will aggravate existing problems,

CEOs say

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Florida's hospital leaders today urged state legislators to reject a proposal to eliminate the state's planning process for new hospitals, warning it would further destabilize a healthcare system already bracing for huge cuts in funding to care for the elderly and poor, and already grappling with serious shortages of doctors and health workers.

Eliminating health planning for new hospitals would lead to an explosion of small, "limited service" hospitals and a two-tiered hospital system in the state -- one for the poor and uninsured and the other for healthier patients with private insurance -- hospital leaders said.

"Florida's hospitals cannot afford legislative action that will further destabilize our healthcare landscape," said Timothy Goldfarb, CEO of Shands HealthCare in Gainesville and board chair of the Florida Hospital Association (FHA). "We don't need more hospitals in Florida -- what Floridians need are more doctors -- particularly specialists -- more nurses, more healthcare workers, and less uninsured."

Goldfarb's remarks were made at a state capitol press conference jointly hosted by FHA and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida (SNHAF).

Florida's hospitals are already facing enormous demographic and social challenges. The state has the highest percentage of residents over ages 65 and 85 in the nation -- groups that consume the most healthcare resources. One in four residents under age 65 has no health insurance and routinely uses the emergency room for basic care. This has contributed to a steady rise in uncompensated care provided by hospitals -- in 2006, it hit $2.4 billion.

Against this backdrop and an economic slowdown, Florida hospitals are also facing enormous federal and state reimbursement cuts. President Bush is proposing $
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SOURCE Florida Hospital Association; Safety Net Hospital Allianceof
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