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Tallahassee Democrat: Kim Williams: Businesses push to expand health care

Monday, October 20, 2014

For too long, politics have guided our state’s direction on the extension of health care coverage.

The real economic benefits of using available federal funds to cover approximately 1 million more Floridians have largely been brushed aside. It’s time we start looking at what the extension of health care coverage means for the people of Florida, the businesses that drive our economy and our state.

As a business owner, one of the most important ways I take care of my employees is to ensure they have access to affordable health care. We pay for 77 percent of my employees’ health care costs, but it’s getting tougher every day to do that.

And, I know a lot of business owners out there who wish they could offer any sort of health benefits, but simply can’t afford it.

Right now, Florida is leaving $50 billion in available federal funding on the table. That’s approximately $15 million a day that can be used to provide health care coverage for 1 million low-wage, working Floridians. It means more than 100,000 new jobs. And, these are not just health care jobs, but jobs for Floridians seeking work in the education, construction, transportation and other industries. The state of Florida will also save billions in general revenue. Business owners will save $253 million a year in federal financial penalties and save even more on the “hidden tax” built into health insurance premiums, which covers the cost of uncompensated care.

From my perspective, it shouldn’t be hard to embrace the idea of using the federal funds when you truly understand all the positive impacts.

Businesses across the state and the business-led coalition A Healthy Florida Works ( are all calling for Florida to take the federal dollars. Other states with Republican-led governors and legislatures are already implementing coverage plans. Florida tax dollars have already paid for this. Accepting the federal funds means Florida tax dollars come back to our state and, more importantly, working Floridians gain coverage.

Some lawmakers have said they don’t like the idea of a federal plan. It’s not too late for Florida to craft a solution that works for us. Very soon, our coalition will propose a Florida-specific plan to meet our state’s needs. It’s time to put politics aside and do what’s right for our state.

Kim Williams is president of Marpan Supply and Marpan Recycling in Tallahassee. He is also a member of A Healthy Florida Works, a coalition of Florida businesses, chambers of commerce, business associations and community leaders who support the extension of health care coverage in Florida (

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