Florida continues to lead every other state using the federal marketplace health insurance marketplace, with just over 1.3 million who were enrolled or were automatically re-enrolled in a health plan as of Jan. 23.
The high numbers are due to high demand, federal health officials say.
Despite uncertainty about whether the federal government will agree to continue the program, Gov. Rick Scott's proposed 2015-16 budget includes funding for a program that many hospitals say is crucial to caring for poor and uninsured patients.
Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 8:00 am
State health policy experts said Thursday prospects for expanding Medicaid in the Legislature this year remain dim because of unwillingness in the leadership and possibly fatal flaws in the two leading proposals. And those experts warn another refusal could come with a stunning economic cost for Florida.
Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 7:36 pm
The Senate says it would consider expanding Florida's Medicaid program to nearly a million more low-income Floridians. The House is continuing to say no.
The federal government’s deal with Indiana to expand that state’s Medicaid program could boost the prospect of expansion in Florida. Indiana’s Medicaid expansion program includes co-pays and premiums for low-income people—something popular among republicans. Senate President Andy Gardiner says Indiana has caught his chamber’s attention.
Insurance companies, perhaps more than previously thought, may be charging the sickest patients extra for drugs under the federal health law, in an effort to discourage them from choosing certain plans, according to a study released Wednesday.
Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Wednesday said his chamber has "no plans" to expand Medicaid coverage to an additional 800,000 residents during the upcoming legislative session.
"We do not plan to do anything on Medicaid expansion," Crisafulli told reporters and editors at the annual Associated Press Legislative Planning Day at the Capitol. "I am a never-say-never kind of guy, and certainly anything can come about that provides opportunity, but at this time we do not plan to hear Medicaid expansion."
Hillsborough County hospitals are scheduled to lose more than $151 million a year in funds for care of the uninsured beginning June 30, according to a report released Thursday.
The scheduled changes to two revenue streams “represent a tremendous loss of federal funding to the county and pose a significant risk,” warns the report by the Community Justice Project, part of Florida Legal Services.
Statewide, the coming annual loss will be $2.1 billion, estimates co-author Charlotte Cassel.
With open enrollment for health insurance ending in just two weeks, the push is on to get everyone who qualifies signed up. But some of the uninsured are balking, and it’s not only the so-called “young invincibles” who think they don’t need it.
Gary Babcock of Clearwater, for example, is neither young nor invincible. He’s 55, with diabetes so severe he has to give himself daily insulin shots.
Florida's Legislature has twice turned down proposals to provide health insurance for nearly 1 million state residents. And the new House Speaker on Wednesday said he had “no plans” to expand Medicaid for the people caught in the so-called coverage gap.
But still state business leaders – and some mayors – continue to rally and aim to take another swing at it when the Legislature convenes March 3.
With Florida's corrections system under scrutiny because of inmate deaths and alleged misconduct, a Senate committee next week will take up a wide-ranging bill aimed at improving prison safety and addressing issues such as the use of force by guards.
The 29-page bill is slated to go Monday to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which heard testimony last week from newly appointed Corrections Secretary Julie Jones. During that testimony, Jones pointed to problems including understaffed prisons and a lack of training for guards who deal with mentally ill inmates.
The deal reached Tuesday between the Obama administration and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to expand Medicaid under the president’s health law should help sway reluctant Republican officials in other states because it imposes new costs on poor adults, promotes healthy behaviors and relies on financing from smokers and hospitals instead of state taxpayers, health experts say.
Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 8:49 am
Governor Rick Scott spoke to reporters with a caged Florida panther present Tuesday at Gator Park in Miami. He announced that $150 million will go toward Everglades restoration this year and $5 billion throughout the next 20 years. Part of the plan he announced funds projects to protect panthers-- 2014 was a bad year for panther deaths. The other part is to move, clean and store Florida’s water supply.
Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 7:09 am
By the end of January, all four South Florida counties will have conducted their yearly homeless counts as required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The numbers help local homeless initiatives figure out where to put their resources and if there have been any major shifts in the demographics of its homeless population.
Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 10:21 pm
State Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater isn't ready to discuss a Louisiana official tabbed by Gov. Rick Scott as a possible replacement for Florida's longtime insurance commissioner.
Atwater's office reiterated Tuesday that he wants Cabinet members to clearly establish a new process to replace Cabinet-level appointees before discussing a potential move by Scott to replace leaders at the Office of Insurance Regulation, the Office of Financial Regulation and the Department of Revenue.
State child welfare officials have recruited more than 600 news foster homes.
The increase comes after lawmakers passed a measure in 2013 aimed at improving the quality of people recruited to become foster parents and help retaining them. The program also works to improve child safety and permanency for foster children.
Approximately 10,000 children are in foster placements throughout the state.
Many people struggle with their weight, and former athletes are no exception.
But athletes who gain weight once they retire are at a higher risk for serious medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. That's why four retired NFL players, including two from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, teamed up as part of a weight loss study by Tampa General Hospital and the USF Health Bariatric Center to tackle their obesity.
Originally published on Fri January 23, 2015 5:27 pm
Some say time heals all wounds. But this week saw the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, and all these years later, the ideological canyon separating opponents in the fight over abortion seems just as impossible to bridge.
In the US House of Representatives Thursday, the temptation to use Roe v. Wade’s anniversary as a chance to vote on anti-abortion legislation was simply to great to pass up. But it was the legislation they didn’t vote on that made the nightly news.
Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 3:32 pm
For years, investing in cancer research has been a frustrating game of chance. Now a legislator wants to create a new lottery game to increase the odds.
Sen. Geraldine Thompson, a Democrat from Orlando, is sponsoring legislation that would add a new scratch off game called “Ticket for Cure.” Sales would support breast cancer research at Florida universities.
That’s welcome news to the executive director of the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, Russell Silverman.
Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases.
Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood.
“This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease,” said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is waiting to hear if the Food and Drug Administration will allow the experiment.
A federal appeals court has refused to reconsider a decision that opens the door for cruise ship passengers to sue for medical malpractice.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week rejected a bid by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to revisit the ruling. The court noted that none of the 11th Circuit judges voted in support of reconsideration.
Royal Caribbean could still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. A company spokesman said legal options are under review.
A massive anti-trust lawsuit against Brevard County's Health First hospital system could go to trial as soon as this summer, on charges it has a ‘vertical monopoly’ on health care.
Health First officials weren’t available to discuss the lawsuit Friday, but the hospital will likely lay out its defense in court filings in the next 30 days. After that, both sides produce evidence. And in July, a possible jury trial.
Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 3:56 pm
The House committee overseeing Florida’s rules and regulations will likely have to give their blessing before a low-THC marijuana framework can be put in place. But some lawmakers don’t think it will be a stumbling block.