Lead Stories


High-Stakes Marijuana Ruling Placed On Hold

In a closely watched case, an appeals court this week agreed to put on hold a circuit judge’s ruling that said Florida lawmakers and the state Department of Health have violated a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

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Changes in store for DOH

Mar 26, 2010

By Jim Saunders
3/26/2010 © Health News Florida
Speaker Larry Cretul and other House leaders put a bulls-eye on the Florida Department of Health during the first day of this year's legislative session.

Just hours after the session opened, Cretul met with reporters to announce a push for "high-performance'' government. And among all state agencies, House leaders singled out the Department of Health for major changes.

By Mary Jo Melone
3/25/2010 © Health News Florida

A South Florida hospital must pay a heart surgeon $6.5 million for breach of contract and slander, an appeals court has ruled. The slander: An executive said he wouldn’t send his “dog” to the surgeon.

The opinion from the Fourth District Court of Appeal upholds a lower court ruling against Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute, an HCA hospital in Fort Pierce. The cardiovascular surgeon who sued is Samuel Sadow. 

By Jim Saunders
3/25/3020 © Health News Florida

Florida Medicaid's fines for fraud and abuse have been so low --- and so often waived --- that they might not be a deterrent to wrongdoing, a new state report says. Also, it warns that officials need to set a limit on how much of state-paid premiums HMOs can keep for themselves.

The report, released Wednesday, focuses on the state Agency for Health Care Administration's handling of fraud and abuse in the Medicaid system.

Drawing criticism from employee unions who accuse lawmakers of breaking a promise, the House moved forward Tuesday with a plan to eliminate subsidies that help government retirees pay health-insurance costs.

The top House budget committee approved doing away with the subsidies, which began in the 1980s and now provide up to $150 a month to former employees of state government and other agencies, such as school boards and some cities.

By Carol Gentry
3/24/2010 © Health News Florida

Six Medicare Advantage plans that have been in trouble in the past are still breaking marketing rules in ways that place beneficiaries at risk, according to a report by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


By Carol Gentry
3/23/2010 ©  Health News Florida

The cost of enrolling additional Medicaid beneficiaries in Florida under new rules passed in the federal health law would start at $149 million four years from now and rise to $1.05 billion by the end of the decade, according to a new chart released Tuesday by the Agency for Health Care Administration. 

By Jim Saunders
3/23/2010 © Health News Florida

Public-health leaders say they are all about preventing disease, not just mopping up after it strikes. So a House proposal that could strip the Florida Department of Health of its health-education mission has unleashed opposition from DOH, led by Surgeon General Ana Viamonte Ros. 

DOH-shrinking bill up Monday

Mar 19, 2010

By Jim Saunders
3/19/2010 © Health News Florida

The Florida Department of Health would face a major reorganization that scales back its duties and shrinks the size of its bureaucracy under a proposal released Thursday night by House Republicans.

FL Senate panel to feds: No!

Mar 18, 2010

By Jim Saunders
 3/19/2010 © Health News Florida

With a congressional vote looming on federal health-care reform, Florida Republicans have brought the political battle to Tallahassee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee --- mirroring an effort by Republicans in other states ---approved a proposal (SJR 72) Thursday that would seek to exempt Floridians from having to comply with federal requirements that they buy health insurance.

By Jim Saunders
3/19/2010 © Health News Florida

Worried about deep budget cuts in mental-health programs, Florida senators are moving to tap more than $40 million a year in tobacco taxes to protect them.

The money would come from a $1-a-pack increase in cigarette taxes that lawmakers approved last year. Supporters of the proposal point to a strong link between smoking and mental health;  one study found that people with mental illnesses or substance-abuse problems smoke 44 percent of the cigarettes in America.