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Mike Haridopolos Puts Health Care on Center Stage

July 27, 2010 - 6:00pm

Having written a letter on national issues to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson earlier in the month, incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, announced Wednesday that he will conduct a tour of hospitals and health-care facilities across the state, addressing health-related issues, including Medicaid.

This year, we have held 17 committee meetings with over 40 hours of testimony in the Senate discussing Medicaid, a mandated program which already takes up nearly 30 percent of our state budget, said Haridopolos. Now, on the road, we can listen to those who could not make it to Tallahassee and hear directly from them what we can do to implement health-care solutions.

Just as he had in his letter to Nelson, Haridopolos continued to address federal issues -- taking aim at new health-care laws backed by President Barack Obama.

Through all of our committee testimony, it became very clear that Obamacare, which will force an additional 1.4 million Floridians into our Medicaid system, is not a workable or affordable solution, said Haridopolos.But, we are not content to just be against something. We are committed to listening to Floridians and finding real solutions that put patients first.

Haridopolos also looked to brandish his conservative credentials by praising free-market solutions for health care.

These solutions need to be focused on making our health-care system and its funding patient-centered, not government-centered, said Haridopolos.Any reforms need to improve access to quality care for Floridians. And that is exactly what we hope to accomplish at the conclusion of this tour.

Hardiopolos touched on Medicaid and other national issues in a letter to Nelson July 6, leading to speculation that the incoming Senate president was considering running against Nelson in 2012. Current U.S. Sen. George LeMieux is reported to be seriously considering running against Nelson.

Staffers for Haridopolos said that Nelson had not responded to the letter -- something that Haridopolos seemed to think would happen when he first sent it.

We know that many congressmen don't read bills before they pass them, but maybe Senator Nelson will read this letter, said Haridopolos. We'll see.

Haridopolos will tour the Borinquen Health Care Center in Miami and the Hendry County Health Department in Clewiston Aug. 4. He will be at a clinic in Orlando, a managed-care facility in Tampa, a hospital in Brandon and the USF College of Medicine Aug. 5. On Aug. 6, Haridopolos will conclude the tour by visiting Shands Hospital in Gainesville and FSU College of Medicine in Tallahassee.

Reach Kevin Derby at or (850) 727-0859.

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