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9:01 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Budget Deadline Nears, Stalemate Continues

Credit State of Florida

The Florida Legislature will end its annual session Friday, but legislators still have not reached a deal on a new budget. That's because the Republican-controlled House and Senate are at odds about health care, including whether to accept federal money linked to President Barack Obama's health overhaul.

Here's a look at what's going on and what may happen next:

  What caused the stalemate?

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HNF Stories
8:19 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Guardianship Bills Racing The Clock

As lawmakers enter the final days of the regular legislative session, they have not resolved proposals aimed at shielding older Floridians from predatory private guardians who take control of the seniors' assets.
 

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8:12 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Claim Bills Likely Headed To Scott

Credit StateImpact.org

Carl Abbott's son, David, has tried for years to get the Legislature to sign off on $1.9 million that the Palm Beach County School Board agreed to pay to take care of his father after the elder Abbott was run over by a school bus in 2008.

But, because Republican legislative leaders frowned on the "claim bill" process, Carl Abbott died before his son received the money he intended to use to move his father out of a nursing home and get the kind of treatment a doctor said was necessary to keep Abbott alive.

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2:52 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Gardiner: Send Full FHIX Plan to Feds

Senate President Andy Gardiner
Credit Florida Senate

Florida Medicaid’s request that federal officials send the state $2.2 billion dollars to keep the Low Income Pool subsidies flowing to hospitals won’t work because a vital part is missing, Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner says.

The missing link, he said, is the Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange, known as the FHIX. It is the Senate’s plan to cover up to 1 million of Florida’s low-income uninsured residents by accepting billions of dollars in Medicaid expansion money under the Affordable Care Act.

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HNF Stories
2:23 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Pinellas Park Student Suspected Of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is spread through the air from one person to another when a person with TB in the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

A possible case of tuberculosis at Pinellas Park High School has prompted free testing for students, teachers and staff who may have had close contact with the 17-year-old student.

Students are being tested Monday and Tuesday this week after the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County was made aware of the case last week.

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HNF Stories
8:55 am
Mon April 27, 2015

House Passes Programs For Intellectually Disabled Children

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Two bills headed for Gov.

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HNF Stories
8:53 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Business Leaders Call On Lawmakers To Act On Medicaid

Credit WMFE

More than 150 local business, hospital and civic leaders met in downtown Orlando Friday to discuss the impacts of the Florida Legislature’s impasse on Medicaid expansion.

Central Florida Partnership and the Central Florida Chambers of Commerce Alliance hosted the health care briefing. Mark Brewer is president and CEO of Central Florida Foundation, which is home for more than 400 charitable funds. He says the bottom line is business leaders want lawmakers to act.

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HNF Stories
8:51 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Lawmaker: Medicaid Remains Budget Sticking Point

State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The Florida legislative session is due to end Friday, May 1, but it seems unlikely that lawmakers can agree on a budget before then. At the center of the standoff between the state house and the senate is a disagreement over whether to take Federal money to expand Medicaid.

If Florida doesn’t expand its Medicaid program the Federal government says it will hold back more than a billion dollars in funding for low-income patients.

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HNF Stories
8:47 am
Mon April 27, 2015

FL Legislature Adds Protections For Pregnant Women

Credit Wikimedia

Florida is making it clear that anti-discrimination laws extend to pregnant women.

The Florida Legislature on Friday passed a bill that would add pregnant women to the state's existing civil rights law. The measure passed the Florida House by a 115-2 vote. The Senate passed the bill unanimously.

If Gov. Rick Scott signs the bill (SB 982) into law, hotels and restaurants could not discriminate against pregnant women. Employers also could not refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant.

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HNF Stories
8:44 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Special Enrollment Deadline Looms

People in Florida and the three dozen other states that use the online federal insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov have a little time left to shop for health insurance.

This special enrollment period for insurance plans under the federal health law runs through Thursday, April 30.

It’s for people who didn't know -- or understand -- that they could face a tax penalty for not having health coverage, according to federal officials.

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HNF Stories
8:40 am
Mon April 27, 2015

FL Could Isolate Infected People

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Florida's top health official could soon have expanded powers to isolate people suspected of being infected with severe diseases.

The Florida Legislature on Thursday sent to Gov. Rick Scott a bill that would bolster the power of the State Surgeon General to place people suspected or likely having a disease into isolation and quarantine. The measure was unanimously passed by both the House and Senate.

The legislation also would allow state health officials to use police to enforce an order.

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HNF Stories
1:51 pm
Sun April 26, 2015

Lawmakers Mulling Medicaid, Budget

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando
Credit MyFloridaHouse.gov

  

House and Senate leaders weren’t backing off their opposing positions on Medicaid expansion  Friday during tense budget negotiations leading into the final week of the Legislative session.

But they did manage to find enough common ground to jump-start negotiations early in the day, only to watch them grind to a halt by evening.

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HNF Stories
7:23 am
Fri April 24, 2015

House Republicans Make Budget Offer

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli
Credit Florida Legislature

 Top Republicans in the Florida House made an offer Thursday to try to bridge a budget gap with Senate Republicans, but it could still result in the state's hospitals getting significantly less than they are receiving now.

House leaders offered to trim back spending on tax cuts and education - in order to boost spending in the state's safety net health care program. The offer, however, would be unconnected to a push by the Senate to expand Medicaid or revamp an existing program that takes federal money for hospitals.

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HNF Stories
2:50 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Selling Hard Boiled Eggs For Medicine: Tradeoffs People In The Gap Make For Health Care

Cynthia Louis in one of Florida International University's Neighborhood HELP Program parked in parking lot of the Pentecostal Tabernacle Church in Miami Gardens.
Credit Wilson Sayre / WLRN

 This is the third part in our series, Falling Into The Gap, in collaboration with the Miami Herald. Read more about the coverage gap and find affordable care on WLRN.org/healthgap.

Every Tuesday, a giant blue bus parks in front of the Pentecostal Tabernacle Church in Miami Gardens. Inside looks like a doctor’s office with a reclining exam chair and anatomical charts. You only know that it’s not a traditional office when it shakes as people get on and off.

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HNF Stories
9:24 am
Thu April 23, 2015

FL To Add 500 New Nursing Home Beds

 Nearly thirty companies will be competing to build new nursing homes in Florida. And with 1,700 applications for only about 500 new beds, competition will be fierce.

Florida just ended a 15-year moratorium on new nursing home construction.

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek said this could be the last big round of new nursing homes because of a cap.

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HNF Stories
11:33 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Program Building 3-D Bionics for Kids Grows

Wyatt Falardeau got a Blue Man Group bionic arm from Limbitless Solutions, a UCF nonprofit.
Credit WMFE / WMFE

An Orlando nonprofit that 3-D prints free bionic arms for children is expanding. And to kick off the expansion, they gave a 3-D printed arm to autistic 12-year-old.

Wyatt Falardeau had his arm amputated shortly after birth. He’s a huge fan of Blue Man Group, and earlier this month, they gave him a new robotic arm.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Wyatt said.

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HNF Stories
3:29 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Drug Database Credited With Lowering ODs

Credit Charlotte Observer

A database that tracks oxycodone and other controlled substances in Florida is being credited with a 25 percent drop in overdose deaths.

In 2011, the state created the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program so doctors and pharmacists could see if patients were doctor shopping, or getting care from multiple doctors without their awareness,  for prescription drugs.

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HNF Stories
1:26 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

House Approves 24-Hour Waiting Period For Abortions

State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, is the sponsor of the bill.

With the Senate also poised to take up the issue, the Florida House on Wednesday approved a bill that would require 24-hour waiting periods before women can have abortions.

The measure (HB 633), sponsored by freshman Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, passed on a vote of 77-41, largely along party lines.

The debate followed party lines, too, with Republicans arguing for the sanctity of life and Democrats arguing for the right to choose.

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HNF Stories
9:01 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Democrats Voice Opposition To Abortion Waiting Period Bill

  As a bill requiring a one-day waiting period for abortions moved toward passage on the Florida House floor Tuesday, Democrats showed their opposition with more than an hour of hostile questions and debate.

The bill was amended to add an exception for victims of rape, incest and human trafficking. But opponents objected to a requirement that the woman produce documentation such as a police report or restraining order to use the exception.

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HNF Stories
8:44 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Scott Steps Into Health Care Funding Battle

Gov. Rick Scott
Credit Associated Press

 Gov. Rick Scott stepped into the legislative fray over health care funding Tuesday, proposing an idea for moving forward on the state budget that was quickly dismissed by the Senate.

Scott's attempt to break the impasse, which comes with less than two weeks left in the legislative session, followed separate meetings among the full Senate and House Republicans in which both sides seemed to dig in further for a protracted battle over funding for providers of medical care and a potential alternative to Medicaid expansion.

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HNF Stories
3:44 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

FL KidCare Funding Extended Two Years

Jodi Ray is the Project Director of Florida Covering Kids & Families at the University of South Florida. She helps enroll children in Florida KidCare.

Thousands of Florida children will retain their health care coverage for at least another two years thanks to the passage of the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act.

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Health News Florida
9:15 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Facility With Jailed CEO On Auction Block

  A hospital and nursing home in Hollywood may be on the auction block soon as its owner and former CEO is in federal prison for Medicare fraud, the South Florida Business Journal reports. 

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HNF Stories
8:59 am
Tue April 21, 2015

City Hospitals Moving to Prosperous Digs

A sign marks the location of a proposed new St. Elizabeth’s hospital in O’Fallon, Mo., on 114 acres of farmland just off Interstate 64.
Credit Phil Galewitz/KHN

Nearly as old as the railroad that slices through this southern Illinois city just east of the Mississippi River, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital has been a downtown bedrock since 1875.

Started by three nuns from a Franciscan order in Germany, the Catholic hospital still seeks “to embody Christ’s healing love” to the sick, the aged and the poor, according to its mission statement.

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Health News Florida
8:48 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Report: Florida Hospital Overbilled Feds $11.5 Million

Credit Florida Hospital

 The Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services claims that Florida Hospital owes the federal government $11.5 million in Medicare overpayments made between January of 2011 and June of 2012, according to the Orlando Sentinel

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HNF Stories
8:39 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Judge Backs AHCA on Immigrant ER Care

Credit AP

An administrative law judge Monday ruled in favor of the state Agency for Health Care Administration in a long-running dispute with hospitals about emergency care for undocumented immigrants.

The case focused on Medicaid payments that hospitals receive when undocumented immigrants go to emergency rooms.

Judge John D.C. Newton, in a 43-page decision, rejected arguments by a coalition of hospitals that the Agency for Health Care Administration had overstepped its authority in approving rules that involve the duration of payments.

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8:35 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Senate LIP Plan Added to Federal Proposal

Credit Agency for Health Care Administration

The state agency responsible for Medicaid submitted a new proposal Monday to the federal government for up to $2.2 billion in health-care funding, but the move might be too late to break a budget impasse.

The new model for the Low Income Pool, or LIP, program closely follows legislation approved by the state Senate earlier this month. LIP, which is largely used to cover the expenses of uninsured, low-income Floridians who show up at hospitals needing treatment, is set to expire June 30.

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HNF Stories
8:48 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Orlando Health's New CEO Makes His First Public Appearance

Orlando Health's new CEO David Strong, left, poses for a photo with Dr. Mark Roh, head of the UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health.
Credit WMFE

Orlando Health’s new CEO gave his first public remarks today at an event designating one of its hospitals as a Cancer Center of Excellence.

Strong started his new job six days ago.

“I’ll tell you that a few years ago, I lost my mom to blood cancer, multiple myeloma,” Strong said. “And this is the kind of center that I would have wanted my mom at.”

Strong also talked about the importance of new technology.

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HNF Stories
8:44 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Scott Compares Obama Administration To Sopranos

Credit Associated Press

 Gov. Rick Scott is comparing the Obama administration to the Sopranos and accusing the president of not caring for low-income families, even as the Republican governor refuses to expand Medicaid insurance to more than 800,000 low-income families.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who is considering a run for president, is also weighing in, voicing support for a Senate compromise that would eventually take federal funds and give them to families to purchase private insurance.

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8:35 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Heroin Deadlier Than Cocaine in Orange, Osceola

Heroin overdoses and deaths are on the rise in Florida.
Credit WMFE

Accidental deaths from drug use is up 26 percent in Orange and Osceola counties, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Heroin overtook cocaine as the deadliest street drug last year. Heroin was found in 89 deaths in Orange and Osceola counties last year, that’s compared to 19 heroin-related deaths in 2011.

Cocaine was a close second, with 88 deaths, and was often used in combination with other drugs. That’s an 89 percent increase from 2012.

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8:23 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Garcia: Scott Suing Feds Could Hurt LIP

Credit Sammy Mack

As chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, Hialeah Republican Rene Garcia is a key member of Senate President Andy Gardiner's leadership team.

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