Dr. John Petrila joins local chamber in push to expand health care coverage
“Insurance needs to be expanded,” said John P. Petrila, JD, LLM. “It may be that Florida will choose to do so through an approach other than traditional Medicaid. But, the critical thing is that the number of people with insurance be expanded dramatically.”
Dr. Petrila, professor and department chair in the USF College of Public Health, recently addressed the issue with reporters at an event sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Florida and Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. The event targeted media with the goal of urging the Florida House to approve expansion of Medicaid to almost 1 million childless adults in Florida.
More than 23% of Floridians lack insurance, second highest in the US only to Texas.
Last spring the Florida Senate approved a plan for expansion. The House didn’t accept it and no compromise was reached before the legislative session concluded.
At the media event, Dr. Petrila described Senator Negron’s approach as a “creative one that presented a potentially politically palatable alternative to Medicaid as the vehicle.” Senator Negron would have provided coverage to one million uninsured Floridians by accepting 55 billion dollars in federal aid that would come to Florida through Medicaid expansion, but the expansion would be administered by the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation.
In a follow-up interview with The Florida Current, Dr. Petrila commented on the changing political climate. “… Ten years ago I think it would have been inconceivable to find a chamber of commerce or a business community coming out for expansion of Medicaid in the way the chamber did today.”
He shared that according to an Institute of Medicine study, in communities with a high number of uninsured, people with insurance report more problems with their health care.
“The Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders clearly recognize that the health of Florida’s communities is tied to the health of its citizens, and expanding insurance coverage is one way to achieve that end.”
Dr. John Petrila serves as chair the Department of Health Policy and Management in the USF College of Public Health. The department offers more than 10 concentrations that lead to MPH, MSPH, and PhD degrees, including an online master of public health degree in public health administration. Additionally, the department offers several dual degrees, graduate certificates, and special programs.