GOP Senate chairman of health policy committee warns of socialized medicine but Dems disagree

Manny Diaz, Jr.
Miami-Dade Republican Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr. . Screenshot: Florida Channel

A push for a Constitutional amendment to protect Florida residents’ private health insurance is gaining traction in the Legislature, though Democrats are opposed.

State Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr., a Republican representing part of Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Senate’s Health Policy Committee, warns of socialized medicine and a single-payer health care system triggering losses in private health care plans if the amendment doesn’t get approved by voters.

Diaz is the sponsor of SJR 340, which would require a supermajority vote before a so-called single-payer health care system could be enacted. He has said that his constituents want to make sure they can keep their health plans in case a one-government system of health care comes to pass.

“In a single-payor health care system, only one entity bears the financial responsibility of health care – the government,” according to the bill analysis. That could potentially do away with private plans.

However, Joe Biden’s health care initiatives did not focus on a single-payor system during his campaign, instead focusing on controlling prescription drug prices, expanding insurance subsidies for the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, and adding a government-run public option, according to Forbes.

Diaz’ legislation came before the Appropriations subcommittee on Health and Human Services on Wednesday, and members there approved the joint resolution by a 6-4 vote, with the four Democrats saying no. Diaz will have to make several other stops in the Legislature in order to get the joint resolution passed.

If approved by voters in the November 2022, the measure would require a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of the Legislature to approve a single-payer health care system, according to the bill summary.

Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer, who represents part of Broward County, expressed discomfort over the joint resolution at the Wednesday meeting.

“I’m struggling to understand what is it about a single-payer system versus a multiple payer system that would lead us to require a two-thirds vote,” Farmer said.

In a phone interview with the Florida Phoenix, state Sen. Shevrin Jones, who voted no at the committee meeting Wednesday, also expressed opposition over the legislation.

“My sentiments still remain the same…we’re stuck on the politics and not the people,” said Jones, a Democrat representing part of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

“What they’re doing is another sign of wasting our time with unnecessary legislation.”

Diaz’ amendment proposal comes as President Biden is pushing for expansion and access to affordable health care for all Americans.

The Biden-Harris administration recently issued a directive allowing Americans to sign up for Obamacare through a special enrollment period that ends on May 15.

Freshman state Rep. Alex Rizo, a Republican representing part of Miami-Dade County, filed a companion measure in the Florida House (HJR 547) in late January but it hasn’t moved through any committees yet.

Earlier this week, Diaz said in a statement:

“Day in and day out, the left tries to glorify a single-payer health care system that would financially cripple our economy,” Diaz said in a written statement.

“Socialized medicine and all that comes with it — rationing, reduced quality of care and government control — would be an insurmountable failure for our state.”