Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made one thing quite clear Wednesday – his administration is fed up with outrageous healthcare costs and he plans to do something about it.
The governor made a promise to start by tackling the skyrocketing costs of prescription medications – and he chose to make the announcement in The Villages in front of a Savannah Center crowd largely comprised of members of Villagers for Trump, the fast-growing grassroots political group that seems to be the choice of many Republicans living in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown these days.
DeSantis said he’ll be working with the Florida Legislature and President Trump’s administration to bring all Floridians less expensive, FDA-approved drugs from Canada.
“I’ve heard day in and day out from people who have had to pay an awful lot of money for prescription medication,” he said. “It’s also one of the leading drivers of costs for small businesses. The biggest hurdle is paying for health insurance, and of course a lot of it is prescription drugs.”
DeSantis added that he had spoken this week with President Trump about the plan.
“He’s not only supportive, he’s enthusiastic,” DeSantis said. “And he wanted me to tell all of you here today that he supports what we’re doing.”
DeSantis said language in the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act gives him the authority to move forward with the prescription drug plan that could save Floridians as much as 75 percent of the costs of some medications. He added that Trump has vowed his support there as well.
“He will take the necessary executive actions to make sure that we can act under this 2003 law,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis said the state will make sure regulatory protections are in place so that Floridians are protected when purchasing their prescription drugs from Canada. And he assured those Villagers who came to hear his announcement that he and the Legislature would move as quickly as possible so that all Florida residents can start enjoying savings on their much-needed prescriptions.
“In our state coffers we will likely save tens of millions of dollars and maybe even more than that,” he said. “That’s great for the taxpayer. It’s gives us the ability to provide more tax relief, pay down debt, education – whatever you want, we’ll have an opportunity to do that.”
DeSantis gave Florida Speaker of the House Jose R. Oliva a good part of the credit for getting the prescription drug plan under way.
“Jose has been looking for ways to reduce the cost of healthcare, not only for our citizens and businesses, but for out state coffers,” DeSantis said of the Republican from Hialeah. “And this is just one part of what we hope to do to bring some sanity to our healthcare system and make things more affordable for people and more transparent.”
Oliva said 48 percent of the state’s budget is tied up in healthcare.
“It’s moving at an alarming rate and the cost of prescription medications are as well,” he said.
Oliva also pointed out that the number one reason for bankruptcy in the United States is healthcare costs.
“There are people who have worked their entire lives and who have set themselves up and they are one major disease away from being bankrupt,” he said.
DeSantis closed by saying that he’s confident the Legislature will move quickly on the prescription drug plan when it convenes in March. And he reiterated that saving up to 75 percent of the cost of some prescription drugs will prove to be huge for Floridians – especially those who are living on fixed incomes like many in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
“It’s a big deal,” he said. “This is not like I’m giving you a coupon to save two percent.”
Both DeSantis and Oliva also offered thanks to Villagers for turning out at the polls this past November.
“I really appreciate all that the folks at The Villages did to support me and how nice you were to my wife, Casey,” DeSantis said of the first lady, who has joined her husband on past visits to the community.
“I don’t need to tell you how close of an election it was,” he said. “And it was a community like this that made the difference. We would have had a very different life had we gone in another direction,” he added of DeSantis’s Democratic challenger, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
David Gee, founder of Villagers for Trump, said he thoroughly appreciates DeSantis’ drive to lower healthcare costs. But he also wondered why the prescription drug plan wasn’t enacted long before DeSantis took office.
“It’s a common-sense approach to healthcare,” he said. “So why in the world wasn’t this done months and years ago.”
Gee added that he believes the bond DeSantis shares with Trump will prove to be beneficial to Floridians time and time again. And he said he wouldn’t be shocked if Trump has his eye on DeSantis for a much bigger role down the road.
“I’m thinking, after Trump wins 2020, who’s going to succeed him,” Gee said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump is not thinking that a great governor that’s done a good job in Florida might not be a bad candidate. So I think his relationship with the president is a home run for all of us.”