What really holds us back

Baptist Health Care CEO Mark Faulkner brought the real meat to the table at the 2015 legislative delegation luncheon hosted by the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce.

In a room full of movers and shakers, where the talk about jumpstarting the economic climate was all the rage, Faulkner put the hard truth out there.

“We are not a healthy community,” he said. “We lag behind other counties in almost every health indicator.”

In deaths from Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancer and a host of other issues, we lead other metropolitan areas in Florida.

We smoke too much, we are overweight, we are asthmatic, we have higher STD rates and teen births. We use the emergency room too frequently for things that aren’t emergencies, because too many of us don’t have access to primary health care.

“And those statistics are people whose lives are cut short and whose potential isn’t realized,” he said.

In the Pensacola area 1 in 5 of us lack health insurance, and of those, 75 percent have jobs, but don’t have access to health insurance through work.

When you want to know what holds us back as community, read those paragraphs again.

Florida had the chance for $50 billion to extend health-care coverage to those who need it, but didn’t take it, Faulkner said.

He asked his lawmakers to consider the A Healthy Florida Works coalition, which accepts $50 billion in Affordable Care Act money, but ties coverage to things like an applicant’s job status or participation in job training. Read more here.

The Pensacola Chamber has joined the coalition of business professionals supporting the measure. Faulkner said it would allow 43,000 people in the Pensacola metropolitan area to get the health insurance they need.

Healthy people miss less work. They cost their employers’ insurance plans less. They have better lives, contribute more to their community.

That’s some real food for thought for the folks in Tallahassee.

Originally published January, 2015.