By Jim DeFede

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida’s 2019 legislative session gets underway Tuesday with a new Governor at the helm and a new House Speaker.

Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, will have plenty on his plate during the 60-day session including the issue of healthcare in the Sunshine state.

“The most pressing issue – there are many – but the most pressing is healthcare,” Oliva told CBS4’s Jim DeFede on a recent interview on Facing South Florida.

“Without a doubt the costs of healthcare are a runaway train. When I was elected in 2011 it was about 33 percent of our budget, which is significant. Of course this year will be about 48 percent. It’s growing at a rate faster than anything else, certainly faster than revenues. And still we have 600,000 people without coverage. And so the real issue is not how much of a commitment we’ve made to spending money on healthcare. The issue is the cost of healthcare. What is causing the cost of healthcare to continue to skyrocket? That’s what we’ll be focusing on.”

Oliva blamed the current system of hospitals.

“Hospitals have become these giant monopolies and conglomerates due in part to government regulation that allowed them to have monopolies,” he said. “In fact they almost insisted that they be the only hospital in a given area. Over the years these hospitals have started to acquire doctor’s offices around them, diagnostic centers around them. They self-refer to their own diagnostic centers and they take in patients from these doctor’s offices they buy. In essence they’ve created a monopoly.”

“The other issue is they can charge anything and people feel like, `Well it must somehow be justifiable.’ Well in the large amount of cases it isn’t. It’s just it’s outright price gouging and we have to get to the bottom of it.”

Oliva said he opposes the so-called Medicaid expansion, which would allow the federal government to pay the cost to provide healthcare for nearly 800,000 people in Florida.

“Well I would tell you that the level of healthcare that they will get is minimal because many doctor’s offices don’t take Medicaid,” Oliva said, adding it would only be a Band-Aid and that the real problem the state needs to focus on is the cos of healthcare.

WEB EXTRA: Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva Speaks On Healthcare


Oliva describes himself as a small government, conservative who believes people should be allowed to live their lives as they see fit.

“I think people should be able to make the decisions that they would like to make for themselves,” he explained. “I don’t want to encumber someone’s ability to make their decisions. I don’t want to tell anyone how to live their lives.”


Jim DeFede