Florida Legislature

10:35 am
Wed July 30, 2014

FMA Funneling $ for Attack Ads

Lead in text: 
The Florida Medical Association recently gave $300,000 to a political committee running attack ads in a closely contested state legislative race, the News Service of Florida reports. The money went to the “Better Florida Fund Corp.,” which is running ads that criticize Sarasota County Republican Richard DeNapoli. He’s competing against fellow Republican Julio Gonzalez, who is a doctor, to replace term-limited Rep. Doug Holder, R-Venice, in the House District 74 race.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The Florida Medical Association, a powerful doctors' lobby, funneled $300,000 this month into a political committee that has run attack ads in at least one closely contested legislative race, according to campaign-finance reports. The Florida Medical Association Political Action Committee contributed the money July 14 to another committee known as the "Better Florida Fund Corp."
HNF Stories
8:01 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Behind the Scenes at FMA

Lawrence Floriani, M.D.
Credit Dr. Larry Floriani

The Florida Medical Association surprised many this week when word came that its House of Delegates embraced a resolution calling for the legislature to expand Medicaid, the state-run program that's supposed to cover low-income people.

The money to do so, an estimated $51 billion over 10 years, had already been set aside by the federal government to begin in January this year, but the state House of Representatives refused to take  it. The FMA delegates want the Legislature to change its position.

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Opinion
9:25 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Pill-Mill Dangers Shifting to Heroin

New laws and a continued crackdown on corrupt doctors helped reduce Florida’s prescription drug deaths significantly a few years ago. However, a new plague has broken out and needs to be addressed as well, the Orlando Sentinel editorial board reports.

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Health News Florida
9:31 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Medicaid Fraud Veto Bothers GOP Lawmaker

While many didn’t notice Gov. Rick Scott’s line item veto of funding to investigate Medicaid fraud, the chairman of the Criminal & Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee certainly did.

Health News Florida
10:24 am
Mon June 30, 2014

More Plans to Compete in '15

The number of health insurers willing to compete in the federally run Health Insurance Marketplace for Florida enrollees for 2015 has grown, according to forms filed with a state agency by Friday's deadline. One that stayed out last year, giant UnitedHealthcare, is among them.

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HNF Stories
10:25 am
Fri June 27, 2014

It's the Law: No E-Cigs for Kids

   A new state law banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors goes into effect next week.

Under the bill, it also is illegal for minors to possess e-cigarettes.

Some e-cigarettes look like traditional cigarettes. But instead of tobacco, e-cigarettes vaporize a mixture of flavorings - and nicotine.

Still, they are addictive and until recently, there were no laws in Florida banning their sale to people under the age of 18. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t issued any official rules concerning them.

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Health News Florida
10:14 am
Wed June 18, 2014

DCF Gains Human Trafficking Oversight

The Department of Children and Families is now responsible for the inspection and certification of “safe houses” for victims of human trafficking, under one of two new laws signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

The bills signed Tuesday help establish screening tools to identify if a child has been sexually exploited and allow DCF to create the safe spaces in communities where none currently exist, according to the News Service of Florida.

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Health News Florida
10:17 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Health Items Await Scott’s Signature

Over the next few days, Gov. Rick Scott will examine the state’s $77 billion budget and decide, what if anything to veto. Among the health items in the budget is an increase in the personal spending allowance for long-term care Medicaid patients from $35 to $105 a month, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. Advocates say the increase is 25 years overdue.

Also awaiting Scott’s signature:

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Health News Florida
10:39 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Payments for Poor Remain an Issue

State Democratic leaders say that Florida’s Legislature failure to pass major health laws this spring may trigger a drop in federal matching money for treating low-income residents in the hospital.

House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, said the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services right now is willing to extend temporary agreements related to the so-called Low Income Pool, the Florida Current reports.

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Health News Florida
10:09 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Trauma Centers Head Back to Court

The Legislature’s failure to fix Florida’s lingering trauma center debate means the hospitals in the dispute are headed back to court, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. 

Bills that would have protected centers at Ocala Regional Medical Center, Blake Medical Center and Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point collapsed during the final day of the 2014 Legislative session.

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Opinion
9:17 am
Mon May 5, 2014

DCF Gets Help, Still Needs to Change

It will be “quite a while” before Floridians know whether Florida's Department of Children and Families is headed in the right direction, editorials in the Orlando Sentinel and the South Florida Sun Sentinel say.

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HNF Stories
4:41 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Which Bills Crashed & Burned?

Some people wanted the big bill of the 2014 legislative session to be Medicaid expansion, accepting federal funds to cover the low-income uninsured. Indeed, interfaith groups were still running phone banks and staging demonstrations up to Friday, the last day of the session.

But it was clear even before the 2014 Florida Legislature opened two months ago the measure would be ignored. Instead, lawmakers spent a lot of time debating ways to stretch the supply of primary-care providers as demand increases.

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Health News Florida
11:27 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Bills Flying, Dying as Session Ends

There’s a flurry of health policy activity as Florida’s 2014 Legislature comes to an end tonight.

On Thursday, the Senate didn’t budge on its ongoing opposition to giving nurse practitioners more authority.

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HNF Stories
7:55 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Stand-Your-Ground Changes Rejected

The Senate rejected proposed changes to the "stand your ground" law that would have prevented people who start an altercation or seek revenge from using it as a defense.

Democratic Sen. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale tried amending another gun bill Thursday to include the changes.

Smith pointed at the Trayvon Martin case, a Tampa-area movie theater shooting and a Jacksonville case where a man fatally shot a teenager after an argument over loud music.

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HNF Stories
11:32 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

DOH to Build Marijuana-Drug System

Surgeon General John Armstrong

Surgeon General John Armstrong may not like the idea of the state giving out medical marijuana, but it looks as though he’s stuck with it. (UPDATE: The Senate passed the House bill as-is around 12:30 p.m. Friday)

The House, Senate and governor have reached agreement to make a cannabis extract available to cancer and seizure patients through a tightly-regulated state-run program. And they have placed responsibility for developing that program squarely in Armstrong’s hands at the state Department of Health.

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HNF Stories
9:27 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Disabled Foster Kids Getting Lawyers

Florida lawmakers have passed a bill requiring the state to provide attorneys to foster children with special needs.

The Senate passed the bill (SB 972) Wednesday after unanimous support in the House last week. The bill recommends the state set aside $4.5 million to hire attorneys for roughly 1,400 foster youths. Some of the money will also fund expert witnesses.

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HNF Stories
8:29 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Hope Remains for Child-Welfare Reform

It’s still unclear what the final version of Florida’s child-welfare reform legislation will look like this year, as the session draws to a close.

Several provisions that concern transparency and accountability could still be in play – both for the Department of Children and Families and for the community-based care agencies that provide adoption and foster-care services at the local level.

On Friday, an amendment to the Senate’s reform bill would have stripped out language requiring more oversight of the child-welfare system.

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HNF Stories
4:45 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

'EpiPen' Bill Headed to Scott

Credit Mylan Specialty

 

 A bill that would increase access to epinephrine auto-injectors used for treating allergic reactions is headed to Florida Gov. Rick Scott's desk.

The measure allows businesses to stock and administer epinephrine auto-injectors, also known as EpiPens, to someone experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction.

The measure passed in the Florida House unanimously last week; it passed in the Florida Senate unanimously Tuesday.

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HNF Stories
2:37 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

House OKs Guns for School Officials

The Florida House has passed legislation that would allow trained officials to carry guns in schools.

The bill (HB 753), sponsored by Sarasota Republican Greg Steube, passed 71-44.

This issue has been argued nationwide since school shootings at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary, Virginia Tech University, Columbine High School in Colorado and others. One side believes armed officials are better equipped to handle emergency situations. The other argues that more guns in schools increases the odds of something happening.

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Opinion
11:05 am
Mon April 28, 2014

‘Sneaky Lie’ on Medicaid Expansion

John Romano

In a column in the Tampa Bay Times, John Romano writes that more than a year ago, lawmakers claimed they were going to look for a solution to help low-income Floridians get health coverage after the House  turned down  a Senate bill to accept $51 billion in federal funds -- money made available through an alternative to  Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

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Health News Florida
10:53 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Scott Tried to Gut Child-Safety Bill

The Florida Senate rejected a last-minute amendment supported by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration that would have severely weakened a bill meant to overhaul child welfare laws,  the Miami Herald reports.
 

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Health News Florida
9:11 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Where Things Stand in Capitol

Both the House and Senate meet today (Monday), the first day of the last week of the legislative session. Leaders of both chambers say they expect to end on time Friday.

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HNF Stories
3:26 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

House Sends 'Train' to Senate

Credit Freefoto

The Florida House passed a huge bill full of controversial health issues on Friday shortly after lunch, sending it on to a Senate that may not be friendly.

The "train" -- legislative jargon for a bill that carries many unconnected issues -- was a signal defeat for the Florida Medical Association, which had opposed two of the biggest issues. HB 7113 would give nurse practitioners the right to practice independently and would allow telemedicine consults with doctors in other states who don't hold Florida licenses. 

The vote was 74-42.

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Health News Florida
9:54 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Senate Agrees to Higher Speed Limits

Speed limits on Florida highways could be raised to 75 miles per hour under a bill the Senate passed.

The Senate voted 27-11 on Thursday to pass the bill, despite concerns by some that it would make roads more dangerous.

The measure would allow the Department of Transportation to raise the speed limit on interstate and limited access highways from 70 to 75 miles per hour, from 65 to 70 miles per hour on rural, four-lane divided highways and up to 65 miles per hour on other roads. It does not automatically raise the speed limits.

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HNF Stories
9:48 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Medical Tourism Passes Senate

The Florida Senate has passed a bill that would market the state as a destination for medical procedures to national and international audiences.

The measure (SB 1150) passed with a 38 to 0 vote Thursday. It would allow the spending of $3.5 million in state funds to promote Florida's medical facilities and surrounding attractions by Visit Florida, the public-private partnership charged with attracting tourism to the state.

The state Chamber of Commerce and other supporters believe Florida offers a number of high-profile medical services but has done little to promote them.

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HNF Stories
3:51 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Delay Helps Safety-Net Hospitals

Jackson Health System, Miami
Credit CBS Miami

A plan to redistribute federal money among all of Florida’s hospitals will be delayed at least a year, legislators announced at a joint Health and Human Service budget conference committee meeting on Monday.

The so-called “tiering” plan would be a significant blow to the state’s 14 safety-net hospital systems, such as Miami’s Jackson Health System, which had been bracing for a $140 million cut to its budget, and the state’s two free-standing children’s hospitals, which were prepared to lose a combined $17.6 million.

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HNF Stories
1:33 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Nursing Home Bill Heads to Governor

Litigants filing a case against a nursing home would be limited in whom they can name as defendants under a bill that passed the House.

Parties that are not involved in the direct decision-making for the operation of a facility named in a legal action could not be named as defendants under Senate Bill 670.

The bill passed the House with a 109-7 vote Wednesday. Supporters say the bill is aimed at Tampa lawyer James Wilkes, who has built a successful business suing nursing homes.

Health News Florida
11:23 am
Wed April 23, 2014

What’s Moving in Capitol? What’s Not?

Higher speed limits, medical marijuana, and child abuse are among the issues in the news today as the Legislature hits its end-of-session frenzy.

Here’s a look at the progress of several health-related bills:

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HNF Stories
10:02 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Physician Assistant Bill Passes

Florida physicians would be allowed to double the number of certified medical assistants under their supervision under legislation that passed the House.

The bill (HB 1275) would allow most doctors to supervise eight assistants instead of four. The measure passed 100 to 19.

The measure excludes assistants working for doctors at a dermatological service other than their primary practice location, where the maximum number remains four.

HNF Stories
9:55 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

House Bars Insurer Bias on Gun Owners

A Florida bill that would forbid insurance companies from refusing to serve or charging higher rates to applicants based on their ownership of a firearm has been sent to Gov. Rick Scott to sign.

The measure passed the House 74-44 on Tuesday. The bill also prohibits an insurer from disclosing information related to the ownership of weapons by a client without the consent of the insured. It extends to both existing and new policies.

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