A Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) bill, seen as a preemptive strike against a single-payer healthcare system in Florida, passed favorably through the Senate Health Policy Committee, with no push-back and very little discussion yesterday.
SJR 340 passed with a vote down party lines, with six Republican “yea” votes and three Democrat “nays.” However, the members opposing the resolution offered no debate and asked only one question of the bill’s sponsor, Senate Health Policy Committee Chair Senator Manny Diaz Jr. (R-District 36).
Senator Janet Cruz (D-District 18), a single-payer proponent, asked if the SJR was an attempt to restrict Medicaid.
Diaz responded that his bill was not about Medicaid, that the bill was about protecting private and employment-provided health insurance.
If passed, SJR 340 and its companion bill House Joint Resolution 547 would amend the Florida Constitution to require a supermajority vote to enact a single-payer healthcare system which means single-payer could not be enacted by the Legislature except through legislation approved by two-thirds of the membership of Florida House and Senate and presented to the governor for approval.
Diaz told The Capitolist he feels confident the joint resolution will pass the full Legislature this year. “I think you saw from the response from the committee, even those that are opposed, I don’t think that we have an ardent push against this bill, against folks having a higher threshold when it comes to such a dramatic change.
“I mean, this would be a complete, dramatic change in our healthcare system and I think it’s important that when you have those policy items that would change everyone’s life in Florida — 22 million people’s lives — that it did it have a higher threshold,” he explained.
“Clearly our voters have sent a message that they would like to keep their private insurance,” Diaz said. “Government doesn’t do a great job at a lot of things and I think healthcare should be kept in the hands of our private system. We need to continue to work to keep that system as much of a free market as we can so that more people have access to quality insurance.”
Americans for Prosperity-Florida (AFP-FL) praised the Senate Health Policy Committee for passing SJR 340.
AFP-FL State Director Skylar Zander said, “Aspects of our healthcare system need improvement, but a complete government takeover would be a terrible mistake. This bill recognizes that legislators need to protect our state from threats of more government intervention in our healthcare that would increase costs on taxpayers and make it harder for Floridians to access a variety of quality health care options that best meet their needs.”
The Capitolist reached out to Senator Cruz for comment, but has not received one.
SJR 340 is now in Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.