Last week, Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva attributed rising health care costs as the number 1 reason Americans declare bankruptcy. However his statement was quickly rated as  “half true”by politifact.com.

As the fact-checking outlet explained, it is quite difficult to attribute bankruptcies solely to medical and health care costs as there are typically multiple reasons why people find themselves in bankruptcy. Additionally, studies vary widely as to the extent which medical bills and hospitalization factor into bankruptcy.

Although I am sure Speaker Oliva did not mean to suggest that all bankruptcy is caused by health care or misconstrue the facts, I think we should take a moment to highlight the importance of how things are communicated. It is not only the responsibility of a leader to be thoughtful in what they say, but when a leader speaks, his or her words weigh heavy. And the reality is that when it comes to people’s lives and health, the need for honesty, transparency and an argument rooted in facts is even more critical.

Floridians are listening to what those in Tallahassee have to say, especially when it comes to health care. Many folks already feel vulnerable and are concerned about losing access to affordable and quality health care.

So I would ask the Speaker and his colleagues who share his viewpoint, if the free market is going to be the answer to everything in health care, then why are there states without CON in place, like Utah, that rank in the top five for bankruptciesin the country?

Furthermore, I would explain to him as I detailed in a recent post, that 14 of the top 20 hospitals in the country as ranked by US News and World Report are in states with CON on the books and two more, the Mayo Clinics in Arizona and Minnesota, are located in states that operate a regulatory process that functions similar to CON.

And so, in the coming weeks, as we debate health care regulation and the role of certificate of need in here in Florida, let’s have a reasonable, honest debate that is based on facts. Let’s all lead by example and speak the truth and put the health and well-being of our fellow Floridians first.