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Florida Privatization Scheme Illegal, Judge Rules

by Clyde Weiss  |  December 04, 2012

gavelThe state of Florida violated the law when it decided to privatize health care services in three regions across the state without legislative approval, a judge ruled Tuesday.

AFSCME Council 79 and our affiliate, the Federation of Physicians and Dentists/Alliance of Healthcare and Professional Employees, sued the state to prevent this outright disregard for legal procedures. During earlier arguments before Circuit Judge John Cooper, union lawyers argued that a legislative panel exceeded its authority because the full Legislature had not taken any action to approve Gov. Rick Scott’s privatization plan.

The judge agreed.

“Today’s ruling proves that the governor can’t skirt the law in order to give sweetheart deals to his big business buddies that wanted to profit off our prison system,” said Council 79 Pres. Jeanette D. Wynn, also an AFSCME International vice president. “Keeping prison health care in-house will preserve quality care and save Florida taxpayers money. Governor Scott’s privatization plan was not only bad for Floridians, it was illegal.”

AFSCME has successfully fought prison privatization efforts in Florida and opposes privatization of health care services on many of the same grounds, such as the fact that public employees are better equipped to do the job – and for less money. Read more about why we oppose privatization here.

Although Judge Cooper said the state “does have authority to privatize prison health care throughout the state,” he concluded that “the full Legislature must do so by passing the appropriate funding mechanism specifically directed to that goal.”

Now that Governor Scott’s illegal effort to circumvent the Legislature has been stopped, AFSCME will mount a fight at the Legislature to prevent the spread of privatized health care services in the Sunshine State. 

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