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Who Is This? Why You Need to Know

Jose Oliva addressing a room.
Florida House of Representatives

State Rep. Jose Oliva, a 40-year-old Miami Republican who runs his family’s cigar company, will be chair of the new Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation, House Speaker Will Weatherford announced Wednesday.

That's one reason to get to know him. Another is that he is slated to be Speaker of the House in 2018.

The select committee officially was set up to address a potential shortage of doctors -- especially primary-care physicians -- that has been forecast to hit when a large number of now-uninsured Floridians gain  access to coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Potentially the number could top 2 million in Florida, but not all takers are likely to show up right away.

Since no one can mint more doctors overnight, what will lawmakers do? One member of the select committee, Naples Republican Matt Hudson, told Health News Florida this week that the panel will focus on “scope of practice” laws and regulations. He said it was premature to discuss specifics.

Scope of practice laws are those that reserve the power to provide a certain health service to one type of health professional -- usually physicians -- and deny that power to other licensees.

Hudson, who chairs the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, declined to name any laws or regulations that may be ripe targets.  

Every year, the Legislature gets caught in the middle of warring factions of health-care providers, with one group demanding deregulation and another warning that it would endanger the public.  An example: During this year’s session, optometrists won the right to prescribe oral medications, after decades of being limited to eye drops. Ophthalmologists had lobbied hard against the measure for years.
 
For more on Weatherford’s committee appointments, see this summary from Florida Current.