News

Pages

Health News Florida
9:09 am
Wed May 27, 2015

House Rebuffs Senate FHIX Compromise

Senate President Andy Gardiner
Credit Florida Senate

  

Republican leaders in the Florida Senate offered up a revamped health care proposal Tuesday in an effort to end a budget stalemate that threatens to shut down state government, but the proposal was immediately rejected by Gov. Rick Scott and House GOP leaders.

Legislators are scheduled to return to the state Capitol next week for a 20-day special session where they are expected to pass a new state budget.

Read more
HNF Stories
9:07 am
Wed May 27, 2015

Lawmakers Talk LIP In Districts

 

 MIAMI-DADE HEALTH FUNDING AT ISSUE

Read more
HNF Stories
9:01 am
Wed May 27, 2015

Hospitals Appeal Immigrant Emergency Case

 A coalition of hospitals from across the state has appealed a judge's ruling about Medicaid payments for emergency care of undocumented immigrants, according to documents in the case.

Administrative Law Judge John D.C. Newton last month sided with the state Agency for Health Care Administration in a dispute that focuses on the duration of payments. Newton rejected arguments by the hospitals that the agency had overstepped its authority in approving rules related to the payments.

Read more
HNF Stories
9:00 am
Wed May 27, 2015

Valencia College Says No More Vaginal Procedures

Credit WMFE

 A Florida community college says it will no longer have ultrasound technician students practice an invasive vaginal procedure on each other after two of them filed a lawsuit.

Valencia College’s president said in a statement Tuesday that students will use simulators when practicing transvaginal ultrasound scanning.

President Sandy Shugart says an independent expert reviewed the program last summer after the students complained and concluded the procedure was done safely and professionally at the school.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:49 am
Wed May 27, 2015

Hospital Commission Talks Performance Funding

James Coffin, executive director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, urged the hospital commission to consider health care for the poor.
Credit Abe Aboraya / WMFE

Gov. Rick Scott’s hospital commission, tasked with looking at how taxpayer dollars are used to support health care for the poor, discussed performance funding for hospitals at a meeting Tuesday in Orlando.

The nine-member group delved through detailed hospital statistics, and started brainstorming ideas for how to reform hospital payments.

Tom Kuntz, a former chairman of SunTrust, helped build performance funding metrics for Florida’s university system. Kuntz says the hospital commission could look at a similar system for hospitals.

Read more
HNF Stories
12:03 pm
Tue May 26, 2015

FL Senate Offers Health Coverage Compromise

Sen. Aaron Bean
Credit Florida Senate

Republican leaders in the Florida Senate offered up a revamped health care proposal Tuesday in an effort to end a budget stalemate that threatens to shut down state government.

GOP legislative leaders have been odds over health care coverage and the dispute derailed the end of the regular session. Legislators are scheduled to return to the state Capitol next week for a 20-day special session where they are expected to pass a new state budget.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:56 am
Tue May 26, 2015

New Orlando VA Hospital Ready for Debut

Credit WMFE

The head of the Veterans Administration is in Orlando today to dedicate the new VA hospital in Lake Nona. VA Secretary Bob McDonald will be the keynote speaker at an event, which will include elected officials.

The $620 million dollar facility broke ground seven years ago, and has been plagued with delays. The clinic began seeing patients in February, and the hospital will continue opening in phases through the rest of 2015.

Navy veteran Tom Pokorski said the new facility is an improvement over the VA clinic at Lake Baldwin, which is old and over-crowded.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:32 am
Tue May 26, 2015

Mom Released Over Son's Circumcision

Heather Hironimus
Credit Associated Press

A Florida woman jailed in a long-running dispute over her son's circumcision has been released after nine nights behind bars.

Heather Hironimus, 31, posted bond and was released at 10:18 p.m. Saturday, jail records show.

She's been portrayed as a martyr by anti-circumcision advocates around the country who have followed her case with rapt interest.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:29 am
Tue May 26, 2015

Child Dentist Accused of ‘Horrors’ Quits

Protestors stand outside Dr. Howard Schneider's office in Jacksonville in April.
Credit Associated Press

A Florida children’s dentist accused of running a “house of horrors” that included performing surgical procedures without anesthetic agreed late last week to stop practicing medicine.

Dr. Howard Schneider of Jacksonville faces multiple lawsuits and his office has been picketed in recent weeks by parents carrying signs as a growing number of ex-patients complain about his practices.

In addition, Florida officials launched an investigation and attorneys said the state was working on an emergency order to shut him down.

Read more
Health News Florida
8:24 am
Tue May 26, 2015

Speaker: LIP Letter Will Help End Impasse

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island.
Credit Mark Foley / Florida House of Representatives

A day after receiving word that Florida likely will receive about $1 billion next year for a key health-care program, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said Friday that the information could help end a state budget impasse.

Vikki Wachino, director of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, sent a letter to the state Thursday indicating Florida could expect to receive about $1 billion during the upcoming fiscal year for the Low Income Pool, or LIP, program.

Read more
Health News Florida
8:13 am
Tue May 26, 2015

Senate Sets Health Expansion Bill Schedule

Credit The Florida Senate

The Senate will move quickly during a special legislative session next month to reiterate support for a controversial plan that would use federal Medicaid money to provide health insurance to about 800,000 Floridians.

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, sent a memo Friday to senators that said the Senate Health Policy Committee will take up the coverage-expansion plan June 1, the first day of the special session. The following day, the plan will go the Appropriations Committee, and it will be approved by the full Senate on June 3.

Read more
Health News Florida
8:06 am
Tue May 26, 2015

Fed Word On LIP Gives Session New Focus

Credit Florida Office of the Governor

For weeks now, one question has hovered over Tallahassee: How will the House and Senate resolve their differences on health care funding and wrap up a special session --- scheduled to begin Monday  --- with a spending plan for state government?
 

If the pieces didn't necessarily fall into place last week, lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott were at least able to get around to opening the puzzle box.

Read more
HNF Stories
3:44 pm
Fri May 22, 2015

Speaker: LIP Offer Will Help End Impasse

Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island
Credit Florida Legislature

A day after receiving word that Florida likely will receive about $1 billion next year for a key health-care program, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said Friday that the information could help end a state budget impasse.

Vikki Wachino, director of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, sent a letter to the state Thursday indicating Florida could expect to receive about $1 billion during the upcoming fiscal year for the Low Income Pool, or LIP, program.

Read more
HNF Stories
9:40 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Court: Med Mal Caps Not Retroactive

A 2003 law capping medical malpractice lawsuit awards at $500,000 can't be applied retroactively. That's what the Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a Miami-Dade County case in which a woman suffered permanent damage to her leg from unnecessary surgery. A jury awarded Kimberly Ann Miles $1.5 million, but Dr. Daniel Weingrad appealed the case saying the award should be limited to the $500,000 cap then-Gov.

Read more
HNF Stories
9:11 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Fed LIP Offer Aims to Solve FL Budget Mess

Gov. Rick Scott
Credit Florida Office of the Governor

The Obama administration offered Thursday to extend Florida's hospital funds for another two years, but only at about half the amount the state received last year — a deal that might help fill a $1 billion state budget hole and resolve a legislative stalemate.

The proposal is still subject to a formal review but federal officials said they wanted to work with the state in good faith, recognizing that the Legislature needs to pass a budget by June 30 to avoid a state government shutdown.

Read more
Breaking
11:11 am
Thu May 21, 2015

FL Could Get Low Income Pool Funds

Vikki Wachino, director of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in a letter dated May 21 that Florida can likely expect $1 billion in the budget year that begins July 1 for the Low Income Pool.

The Obama administration has made an offer that it hopes will resolve Florida’s $1 billion state budget stalemate over health care funds for poor people.

Federal health officials agreed to extend Florida’s hospital funds for another two years, but only at about half the amount the state received last year. That means Florida lawmakers may have to dip into the state budget to fill the gap or state hospitals will get less money in the coming year.

In a letter Thursday to Gov. Rick Scott, federal officials stressed that they would not use Low Income Pool hospital funds to cover anyone who could be covered by Medicaid expansion, but they also acknowledged the loss of those funds may be difficult for the state. The current hospital funds are $2.1 billion dollars, put up by the state and federal government. The administration’s preliminary offer drops that to $1 billion for the 2015-2016 fiscal year and to $600 million the following year.

The proposal is still subject to a formal review but federal officials said they wanted to work with the state in good faith, recognizing that the Legislature needs to pass a budget by June 30 to avoid a state government shutdown.

“The decision about whether or not to expand Medicaid is a state option … (R)egardless of whether a state expands Medicaid, uncompensated care pool funding should not pay for costs that would be covered in Medicaid expansion,” federal health officials said in the letter.

The funds, which are part of a federal program that covers the hospital bills of uninsured and Medicaid patients, were supposed to end this year as President Barack Obama’s health care program grew. Patients covered by the low-income pool were supposed to be covered by Medicaid, but the Florida House and Scott have balked at expanding it.

The bitter standoff between the Republican governor and the Obama administration tore apart the state legislative session, with the House abruptly adjourning three days early last month. Scott sued the Obama administration, comparing federal officials to the TV mobster show “The Sopranos” and accusing them of withholding the hospital funds because the state wouldn’t expand Medicaid.

The dispute created a $1 billion hole in the governor’s budget that should now be much easier for lawmakers to address when they return for a special session June 1.

Scott pressed for the extension for months, even visiting Washington twice and blaming the Obama administration for ruining his budget and ignoring his timeline even though he’s known for more than a year that the funds were ending. He waited until mid-April to submit a proposal, although the months-long required public comment period made it impossible to get an answer before the Legislature adjourned last month.

The Obama administration and hospitals want the governor to expand Medicaid to more than 800,000 low-income Floridians and will not spend federal hospital funds on those who would be covered by Medicaid expansion. That’s because federal health officials say it’s more efficient to use the money to give people health insurance than to pay hospitals for caring for the uninsured retroactively.

But Scott and Republican House leaders refuse to accept any money tied to the Affordable Care Act - including Medicaid expansion. They even snubbed a Senate proposal that would eventually take billions of federal dollars and allow the Medicaid expansion recipients to buy private health insurance - a solution that Scott has fought for in the past.

The House and Senate recently announced they would discuss Medicaid expansion during the special session, snubbing the governor’s call to focus only on the budget.

Senate leaders had prepared to move ahead with a health care coverage plan during the upcoming special session, but the announcement from the federal government bolsters the argument of House Republicans who maintained that the state would continue to receive a decent chunk of the hospital money without having to expand Medicaid.

During a recent closed-door session, House and Senate budget chiefs discussed the House’s objections to the Senate’s current proposal. Senate budget chief Tom Lee agreed there were “reasonable” concerns raised about the Senate plan.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:37 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Feds Investigating FL Prisoner's Death

Darren Rainey died while an inmate at the Dade Correctional Institute.
Credit Florida Department of Corrections

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the death in a scalding shower of a Florida prisoner and may conduct a broader civil rights probe into allegations of abuse of mentally ill inmates.

Existence of the criminal investigation into the 2012 death of Darren Rainey, 50, was confirmed in a recent Justice Department letter to the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which last year requested the probe.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:33 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Hospital Commission Echoes Scott's Agenda

Gov. Rick Scott's hospital commission held its first meeting Wednesday, overwhelmed by mounds of data but intent on determining whether hospitals that receive tax money are being managed efficiently.

"What are we paying for and what's the result of what we're paying for? Do patients have access, is it quality care and is it affordable?" said Dr. Jason Rosenburg.

Read more
Health News Florida
8:25 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Scott to Consider Single Elder Guardian Bill

One of three elder guardianship bills considered during the legislative session passed, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

Gov. Rick Scott will consider signing into law House Bill 5, which requires advance notice before hearings on the appointment of emergency temporary guardians, according to the Herald-Tribune.

Read more
HNF Stories
12:30 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Punishment for Fatal Error a Tough Call

Justin Solnay with family poodle
Courtesy of Solnay Family

  Two years ago, a little boy with a leaky heart valve was rolled into the operating room at Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando.  Before starting surgery, as required, the team took a “Time Out.”

Doctors and nurses made sure they had the correct patient on the table – Justin Solnay, age 11 – and were planning the right procedure – replacing Justin’s weak aortic valve with a mechanical implant. They ran through the list; check, check and check.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:48 am
Wed May 20, 2015

Hospital Commission Set for First Meeting

Gov. Rick Scott
Credit Florida Office of the Governor

Gov. Rick Scott’s new hospital commission consists of Republican donors and business leaders who will likely help him go after some of the state’s hospitals as the standoff over Medicaid expansion intensifies.

The panel, which will meet for the first time today, is beginning its work as the governor has become increasingly antagonistic toward hospitals that receive taxpayer funds in the face of a $1 billion hole in his budget.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:45 am
Wed May 20, 2015

College Sued for Vaginal Ultrasound Recruitment

Two students allege they were "browbeat" to volunteer for transvaginal ultrasounds as part of Valencia's program.
Credit WMFE

Two Valencia College students in Orlando have filed a lawsuit alleging students were "browbeat" into having pelvic ultrasounds performed on them.

Valencia College hasn’t been served the lawsuit, filed late last week, but defended its use of student volunteers.

Read more
Health News Florida
8:41 am
Wed May 20, 2015

Ex-USF Physicians Chief Sues for $600K

Credit USF Health

The former head of the University of South Florida’s Physicians Group is suing the university for $600,000 in severance pay after resigning from his job in December, the Tampa Tribune reports.

Dr. Jeffrey Lowenkron said his contract was extended in August 2013 with terms saying he was owed a year’s salary in severance pay if there were any changes in his job description or reporting relationships, according to the Tribune.

Read more
Health News Florida
8:30 am
Wed May 20, 2015

New Lawyers for Eye Doc Fighting Fraud Charges

Dr. Salomon Melgen
Credit Associated Press

A high-powered Miami attorney and Washington lawyer will now help North Palm Beach ophthalmologist Dr. Salomon Melgen fight federal fraud charges, the Palm Beach Post reports.  

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra allowed Melgen to dismiss his original legal team representing him in the $105 million Medicare fraud case, which includes 46 charges of health care fraud and 30 related offenses, according to the Post.

Read more
Health News Florida
7:59 am
Wed May 20, 2015

HCA Seeks Higher Medicaid Payments To Replace LIP

Saying the Low Income Pool is "not a long-term solution and often yields inequitable results," the hospital company HCA has sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott calling for an overhaul of the way Florida pays for care of low-income patients. 

HCA, which has 46 hospitals in the state, recommended increasing base Medicaid payment rates for hospitals --- and offered the possibility of increasing a hospital-provider tax to help finance the changes. Money collected through such a tax hike could be used to draw down additional federal Medicaid funding.

Read more
Health News Florida
7:50 am
Wed May 20, 2015

Hospitals To Scott: Look Up Financial Data

As Gov. Rick Scott's newly created health care commission prepares to meet today to begin sifting through data about hospital funding, the governor's request for information has been met with hospitals essentially telling him to go look it up.
 

Many of the dozens of surveys returned by hospitals have five or fewer of the roughly 100 lines filled out with new information. Officials frequently referred Scott back to information filed with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees much of the state's spending on health care.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:43 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Warnings for FL Government Shutdown

Credit State of Florida

State officials warned on Monday that if Florida legislators fail to reach a deal on a new state budget, everything from child abuse investigations to money for teachers could be halted in coming weeks.

Gov. Rick Scott last week ordered agencies to give him a list of the state's critical needs if a new budget is not in place by the end of June. Some agencies responded with a list of what needs to be funded, while others said what would happen without a spending plan.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:35 am
Tue May 19, 2015

13% Of FL Foster Kids In Group Homes

Credit Wikimedia Commons

A new study shows that 13 percent of Florida's 18,000 foster youth are living in group homes instead of with a family.

A national report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation revealed 57,000 of the 400,000 foster children in the U.S. live in group placements. Colorado had the highest number at 35 percent.

These placements have been shown to be harmful to a child's opportunities to develop strong, nurturing attachments. Those who grow up in group placements are also at greater risk of being abused and being arrested.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:31 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Fed. Judge Questions Circumcision Case

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

A judge expressed skepticism Monday that a long-running court battle over a Florida boy’s circumcision amounted to a constitutional issue worthy of being argued in federal court after being exhaustively litigated in state courts.

In the first hearing on the issue in federal court, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra questioned the attorney for the boy’s mother, Heather Hironimus, over the legality of proceeding with the case when a state judge had already ruled.

Read more
Health News Florida
8:25 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Jackson Fighting Trauma Center Denial

Credit JusticeSolutions.org

Jackson Health System says the Florida Department of Health denied its application to operate a trauma center at Jackson South Community Hospital by “inventing” new requirements the law does not require, the Miami Herald reports.

In its denial, DOH said Jackson lacked proper documentation, in areas such as education requirements for surgeons and nurses, and helicopter landing pad licensing, according to the Herald.

Read more

Pages