Following a roundtable discussion with Floridians and healthcare leaders to hear their personal stories of dealing with soaring prescription drug costs this week, Sen. Rick Scott spoke to the Federation of American Hospitals to share his commitment to finding common-sense solutions to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for Florida families.
Read his remarks as prepared for delivery below:
"I appreciate the opportunity to come talk to you about my views on healthcare and how we can make progress to improve the quality of care while reducing costs for families.
"Healthcare really has been central to my entire life. I grew up in public housing. My parents struggled for work. I never knew my father. My brother had a rare disease and my mom didn’t have insurance. She finally found a charity hospital four hours away that we would travel to for his treatment.
"That experience had a huge impact on my life and the way I think about providing quality healthcare that families can afford. My political opponents completely misunderstand this…everything I’ve done in the healthcare arena, and everything I try to do, it’s all driven by my experience as a poor kid growing up in a poor family that had nothing.
"The best way to have healthcare is to have a job. The best way for the government to be able to afford to provide healthcare for low income families like mine growing up is to have a strong economy where everyone has a job. That’s what the Left fails to understand. If we want to invest in the things that are important, we need a strong economy. When I ran for Governor in 2010, I had a plan: 7 steps to get 700,000 jobs in 7 years.
"I used to joke that if you asked me the weather I’d say that I have a 7 step plan to create 700,000 jobs in 7 years. Why? Because our economy was in the tank. Our state lost 832,000 jobs in the four years before I became Governor. That’s 832,000 families that had a tougher time putting food on the table or getting quality healthcare for their kids – families like mine growing up. But it also meant that we had a $4 billion budget deficit in our state.
"That makes it harder to invest in the things that matter. If we want a strong social safety net; if we want to protect our environment; if we want to invest in infrastructure – the only way to do that is to create jobs.
I’m not governor anymore, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop talking about the importance of a job and what that means for a family like mine growing up. It really is the most important thing we can do for a family.
When I was governor, I worked to reduce costs and increase access to quality healthcare for Florida families:
Successfully transformed Florida’s Medicaid program to managed care, improving quality and reducing costs.
Invested more than $690 million in cancer research and prevention.
Supported Florida communities and families battling the national opioid epidemic, investing $65 million in 2018.
Committed record funding for the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative.
Healthcare was also my first introduction to the political world. In 2009 I founded a group called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights.
A government takeover of the healthcare system doesn’t work. We see the results. It hasn’t worked. Democrats are proposing that we dismantle Obamacare entirely and replace it with a single-payer, government-run healthcare program. So even the people that wrote and passed Obamacare now admit it’s not working.
Before my foray into politics, I ran the largest healthcare company in the United States – 285,000 employees and 350 hospitals across the country. Lots of people in Washington talk about healthcare. But they’ve never actually done it. Because of my childhood experience with healthcare and what I accomplished in business and as Governor, I’m looking towards the future.
What can we accomplish this year to fix some problems in our healthcare system?
This year, I’m focused on three areas: Reducing the cost of prescription drugs, protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and promoting price transparency throughout the healthcare system.
Last week, I brought in a wide spectrum of industry representatives from across the country to start the discussion about how we move forward on these issues. In business, you bring people to the table to negotiate. That’s what I’m doing here. The grand bargain almost never works. We need to find the incremental change that we can actually get done and we need to get it across the finish line.
Even in the hyper-partisan, dysfunctional world of Washington, D.C., these are three areas are things that I think we can and SHOULD get done.
Reducing cost of prescription drugs: increase competition, promote transparency, stop stifling innovation.
Protecting people with pre-existing conditions: Obamacare was a bad bill with some good provisions in it. With the court ruling, we need to re-guarantee those protections.
Price transparency: When I owned outpatient clinics, we had prices for every procedure on a board in the lobby. We can do that system-wide. There’s no reason patients shouldn’t know exactly what their procedures will cost before they go into the doctor’s office.
Washington seems to have given up on reforming healthcare. I don’t accept that. The far Left hasn’t given up, they are marching forward with their Medicare-for-All push ... which of course would destroy Medicare entirely.
The American people -- and certainly the people of Florida -- want us to get something done to reduce healthcare costs and increase access to care.
That’s what I intend to do.
Even if a comprehensive bill is impossible, we need to figure out what common ground we can find and we need to get it done. Healthcare has been an important part of my life, but it’s an important part of every family’s life.
Congress has a responsibility to do whatever we can to ease the burden on hard-working American families. And everyone in this room has a responsibility to provide quality care at a price people can afford. And yes, I fully realize that some of you may be listening to this speech and thinking -- “This guy is dreaming if he thinks he can get anything done in this Congress.”
My response to that is simple -- if you don’t dream big, you should quit and make room for someone who does. We’re in this fight together and I hope you’ll joining me in fighting for common-sense healthcare reforms.