As the debates in the Sunshine State heat up, it can get confusing to separate the political rhetoric from the candidates’ actual stand on the issues. To help you sort through the muck, ASJ has created the following table to highlight the differences — and similarities — between the candidates’ platforms on the issues that matter most to your business.

Alex Sink

Rick Scott

Political party and background

Democrat, CFO of Florida

Republican, former healthcare executive, founder of Conservatives for Patients’ Rights

Health care

Showed general support for the health reform bill. Believes that insurance companies must be held accountable so they no longer deny coverage to Floridians with pre-existing conditions; health insurance must be more accessible and affordable for small businesses and their employees; that the Medicare prescription-drug ‘doughnut hole’ must be closed; and that any expansion of Florida’s Medicaid program must not overburden our state. Also believes private health insurance must remain the foundation of our health care system.

Supports a state constitutional amendment in Florida that prohibits the federal government from imposing President Obama’s individual mandate, to protect Floridians’ freedom to control their health care choices.

State budget

Institute a “Budgeting in the Sunshine” initiative, which aims to create significantly more transparency in the state budget. Additionally, plans to require all top state agency officials to sign performance contracts with benchmarks tailored to their department, and create an independent, nonpartisan accountability office on state spending, among other programs.

Plans to institute Accountability Budgeting. He will make each state agency set annual goals for every dollar they spend, then measure their performance against those goals and hold them accountable for their outcomes.

Small business

Will create a small business ombudsman within the governor’s office.The ombudsman will oversee and coordinate issues affecting Florida’s small businesses. This includes responding to complaints, providing technical advice and assistance, reporting small business concerns and recommendations to the appropriate agency head, and breaking the regulatory logjam in the state’s permitting process for new development.

Has received the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business/Florida. Scott will help small businesses by “keeping taxes low, limiting job-killing regulations, and getting government out of the way of small business so they can do what they do best: create jobs,” he said.

Biggest insurance-related controversy

During her tenure as CFO, Sink approved at least six applications from former felons seeking insurance licenses. However, if their civil records were cleared, Sink’s office wouldn’t have been able to deny the applications, so this issue is still being investigated.

In 1997, Scott’s healthcare company, Columbia/HCA, was raided by Federal agents. Among the crimes uncovered were doctors being offered financial incentives to bring in patients, falsifying diagnostic codes to increase reimbursements from Medicare and other government programs, and billing the government for unnecessary lab tests. Scott was never charged with any wrongdoing.

Heather Trese is the associate editor of the Agent’s Sales Journal. She can be reached at [email protected] or 800-933-9449 ext. 225.