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DeSantis Backs ‘Shared Savings’ Health Plan

Gov. DeSantis speaking at an event
Governor's Press Office
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Gov Ron DeSantis is throwing his support behind a proposal that could lead to insurance companies and HMOs returning premiums to savvy customers who are willing to shop around for health care. 

Appearing at Memorial Regional Hospital in Broward County on Wednesday, DeSantis supported bills filed for the upcoming legislative session that would establish “shared savings incentive” programs.

“What we are trying to do is align the incentives in a way so that patient behavior benefits the patient when they make good decisions … ,” DeSantis said of his support for the proposals (SB 524 and HB 1113).

The bills would allow --- but wouldn’t require --- insurance companies and HMOs to establish programs that provide people cash incentives for using “shoppable services.” When a shoppable service is obtained for less than what an insurance company would pay, the savings are shared between the consumer and the carrier.

The shoppable services would be types of non-emergency care, such as clinical laboratory services, surgical procedures, obstetrical and gynecological services, prescription drugs and services provided through telehealth. Under the House version of the bill, the services could be provided within Florida or outside of the state.

But the bills could draw the ire of physicians.

Jacksonville attorney Chris Nuland, a longtime lobbyist who represents several types of physician groups such as the Florida Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, said his clients “want patients to be partners in their health care, but we also are concerned that it may provide incentives to limit care.”

DeSantis’ appearance in Broward County was his second announcement in a week about health-care proposals. Last Wednesday, he said he was seeking to allow imports of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo issued a statement Wednesday immediately after DeSantis backed the “shared savings incentive” proposal and criticized it as a “Band-Aid fix” for a broken health-care system.

“This plan is simply too little, too late --- and will do nothing to help Floridians who lack the care they need,” she said in a statement.

Democrats attacked DeSantis during the 2018 campaign for not having a health care plan and for not supporting a Medicaid expansion to provide care to uninsured residents. Ultimately, the issues didn’t decide the election, as DeSantis defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum in November.

The House and Senate bills that would create the “shared savings incentive” programs are similar but not identical. The House bill, for instance, includes in the definition of health care providers entities and professionals “outside the state with an active, unencumbered license for an equivalent facility practitioner type issued by another state, the District of Columbia, or a possession or territory of the United States. “

The Senate bill doesn’t include that provision.

Meanwhile, both bills would require insurers to publish shared-savings lists of available services and providers, though the House bill also would require that the list contain potential amounts that could be saved for each service.

The House bill would require that the consumers cannot receive less than 25 percent of the savings that were generated by their participation in the programs. Both bills would require insurers to deposit or credit shared-saving incentive amounts into customers’ accounts.

The state’s largest health insurer, Florida Blue, said it is supporting the legislation because the program would be voluntary.

“Florida Blue supports this legislation for voluntary programs that provide incentives for customers to help them become informed health care consumers leading to improved health,” Toni Woods, a spokeswoman for the insurer, said in a statement.

Florida already authorizes a similar program in the state-employee health insurance plan. DeSantis said Wednesday that he would direct the Department of Management Services, which administers the state group health insurance plan, to publicize the opportunity and to “get as many people plugged into that as possible.”