Linda Quick has been a force in Florida health care policy for decades.
Quick—who was born at Coral Gables Hospital—spent 40 years working in health care. The past two decades of that were with the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association, which represents hundreds of hospitals and health-care businesses on legislative and industry issues.
Quick has had an insider’s view of some of the biggest policy and economic events affecting the health of Floridians.
And as of January, she’s retired.
“I did tell my staff that if anyone asks can they get me a retirement present—tell them as long as it doesn’t need a wall or a shelf,” said Quick as she was in the process of packing up an office wallpapered in plaques certificates of gratitude from health-care organizations and community groups.
Quick took time between boxes to talk about what she’s learned and where health care in Florida is going.
Q: In your more than two decades with the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association, how have you seen the business of health care change in Florida?
A: The good news for the population in South Florida is that people are healthier. We as a society have institutionalized use of seatbelts, and even though Florida doesn’t require it, we wear helmets, and we go to the gym and we pay attention to what we eat. And, we tend to need hospitalization less.
So one of the most obvious changes over time is the decrease of inpatient utilization or as hospital administrators would have called it some decades ago, “heads in beds.” And for everyone that's really pretty good news.
The second reason, besides doing a better job of [people] staying well, is that technology and pharmacology have made it so that almost everything you need from a hospital, you can get, and leave in the same day.
Q: What has the Affordable Care Act meant for hospitals in Florida?
A: The best part of that is the state of Florida has close to 2 million more insured people than we did before. For the institutions, it means less uncompensated care.
The Catch 22: in order to buy affordable coverage, people purchased low-premium, high-deductible health plans. So to some extent you're still sort of uninsured for the initial several thousand dollars.
Q: Last year, the issue of Medicaid expansion was a long fight. And ultimately Tallahassee lawmakers decided not to expand Medicaid. Because it was such a dominant issue in the Legislature, what got lost that you think lawmakers need to be paying attention to?
A: The fact that we are paying for it.
In our tax money. Our insurance premiums are higher if we’re buying insurance.
I think they’ve lost sight of the fact that the nurses still get paid, the doctors still get paid, the equipment still gets bought. We're just paying for your own plus a piece of somebody else's.
Q: What happens next for you? What are you doing next?
A: I'm retiring from this position, I’m not retiring from life. My accountant told me I had to create a company. I named it The Quick Bernstein Connections Group.
What I have done most of my career is introduce people to people they should know and don't.
I would love to write; I certainly plan to do some of that.