The importance of making sure Florida’s next generation of leaders is up to speed on public policy matters isn’t lost on state Attorney General Pam Bondi, who recently addressed the JU Public Policy Institute (JU PPI) Board of Advisors.
Bondi told the audience, which included the board and JU PPI faculty, that public policy matters have been interwoven throughout complex Florida issues she’s tackled, such as human trafficking, prescription drug abuse, pill mills, the mortgage crisis, the BP oil spill and the selling of synthetic drugs.
She applauded the JU PPI’s efforts, and offered to return to the Institute as a guest speaker for JU PPI students.
Also addressing the board and faculty at the meeting on Thursday, April 25, was Jason Altmire, Florida Blue senior vice president of public policy, government and community affairs, who discussed national and state health care policy.
Altmire, who joined Florida Blue this year and served three terms as a U.S. Congressman, focused on the development and application of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
The JU Public Policy Institute is offering the first Master in Public Policy (MPP) degree and MPP dual degree programs in Florida. It will welcome it first class of students in August 2013.
Details of Presentations
Bondi discussed “Policy and Legal Issues Facing Florida.” As Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi is the state’s Chief Legal Officer and a member of the Florida Cabinet. Attorney General Bondi is the first female attorney general in Florida and the 37th in history. She was a prosecutor for 18 years before becoming attorney general.
In her presentation to the Board, Attorney General Bondi discussed the role of the Attorney General’s office, the importance of public policy, her love of teaching, and her enthusiasm for the work of the JU Public Policy Institute.
Her wide-ranging presentation on diverse substantive areas included:
- Affordable housing and the mortgage crisis,
- The BP oil spill in the Gulf and compensation for Floridians,
- Human trafficking and aggressive efforts by the Attorney General’s office of statewide prosecution,
- Pill mills and statewide prosecution efforts, and
- Medicaid fraud.
Mr. Altmire, a former three term congressman from Pennsylvania with extensive healthcare expertise, became an executive with Florida Blue in January 2013. In his presentation to the Board, Mr. Altmire focused on healthcare policy issues and structural issues in congressional districts contributing to the often partisan and deeply divided Congress.
Mr. Altmire stated the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is here to stay and provided keen insights and historical background. Healthcare involves quality, coverage, and cost. The ACA is not focused on quality or cost. It is focused on access. The reason is in part historical and in part economic.
Mr. Altmire described the role of Rahm Emanuel in both the Clinton and Obama administrations. The Clinton administration did not include key stakeholders in its healthcare proposal and, upon its announcement, it was killed politically by stakeholders. The Obama administration, learning from this, made economic concessions to AARP, hospitals, physicians, pharmaceutical companies, and others. This precluded cost reduction in the ACA. Medical device companies would not play and received a 2 to 3% tax on devices.
- The ACA is funded primarily through tax increases of over $500 billion and over $500 billion from Medicare.
- The U.S. Supreme Court, in 2012, declared the individual mandate a tax, but stated Medicaid was a Federal-State program that could not be imposed on the states. This has created a gap between Medicaid and the Exchanges in many states, including approximately 1 million people in Florida.
- There is no desire on the part of Republicans or Democrats to “fix” the ACA. Both, for different reasons, will steer clear. It is here to stay.
- The ACA will have many unintended consequences.
Mr. Altmire also described changes in the composition of congressional districts creating new “safe districts” and a greater division and partisanship in Congress.