An appeals court Wednesday upheld the constitutionality of a 2012 move by state lawmakers to limit fees paid to attorneys who represented a child severely injured at birth in a Southwest Florida hospital.
In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal said it was "sympathetic" to the arguments of the West Palm Beach-based law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A., which spent years representing the child, Aaron Edwards, and his parents in a legal fight against Lee Memorial Health System and won a nearly $31 million jury verdict.
A bruising budget battle that divided Republicans in the Florida Legislature is over for now, but the truce is likely only to last a few months.
Legislators passed a nearly $79 billion budget Friday with just days to spare. Legislators had until July 1 to pass a budget or state government would have been partially shut down. They didn't pass a budget during their regular session because they were divided over health care spending. That sparked a stalemate — and finger-pointing will remain when legislators return for their 2016 session.
The Republican-controlled Florida House voted along party lines on Friday to retain — for now — the rates that Gov. Rick Scott and thousands of state workers are currently paying for health insurance.
Nearly 30,000 people in state government, including the governor, staff at the Florida Legislature and Attorney General Pam Bondi, pay either $8.34 a month for individual coverage or $30 a month for family coverage. Rank-and-file state workers pay $50 a month for individual coverage or $180 a month for family coverage. House and Senate members also pay this rate.
Pitching more competition and choices in the health-care system, the House on Friday passed six bills that include proposals to revamp health coverage for state employees and eliminate key regulations in the hospital industry.
But as lawmakers head into the final week of a special legislative session, it remains unclear whether the Senate will pass any of the bills. Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, remained non-committal Friday, though he suggested the House's proposed changes to employee health insurance likely will not pass.
Women will have to wait 24 hours before having an abortion under a bill Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed into law today, a reflective period supporters said they hoped would change some women’s minds before ending their pregnancies.
Scott signed the abortion measure along with 54 other bills, including legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to take experimental medicines. Scott also signed into law a measure that revises the rules for the panel that regulates Florida electric rates. He vetoed a bill dealing with home medical equipment providers.
By Brandon Larrabee of The News Service of Florida
Dozens of budget issues --- including the one that threw lawmakers into a special session to finish work on the state budget --- moved up the legislative ladder Tuesday, starting the next round of talks aimed at resolving differences between the House and Senate spending plans.
House and Senate negotiators have been unable to bridge key differences in their competing proposals to fund the environmental portions of the state budget.
Now, decisions about how to spread an increased pool of money, which is expected to be used for buying and protecting environmental lands and helping restore the state's natural springs and the Everglades, will be up to the House and Senate budget chairmen starting Wednesday.
By BRANDON LARRABEE OF THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
Despite several changes made in recent days to assuage the concerns of the Republican majority, the Florida House remains poised to defeat a health-care expansion plan backed by a bipartisan group of senators.
More than two hours of questioning on the House floor Thursday gave little reason to believe that the bill (SB 2-A) would survive a vote scheduled for Friday. For all of its new provisions, House Republicans said, the so-called Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange, or FHIX, remains Medicaid expansion in disguise.
In recent years, states have passed well over 250 laws restricting abortion. One trend in those restrictions: longer waiting periods before women can have the procedure.
Twenty-six states already have waiting periods. Most make women wait 24 hours between the time they get counseling on abortion and have the procedure. But this year, several states are extending that to 48 — even 72 — hours.
The Florida Legislature kicked off a 20-day special session Monday, with legislative leaders sounding more open to compromise as they race against the clock to pass a new state budget.
The conciliatory tone espoused by House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner was different than it was just a few weeks ago when the Republican-controlled Legislature ended its session amid finger-pointing and lawsuits.
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.
Florida Governor Rick Scott’s commission investigating hospital finances will meet for the first time today. The meetings come as Florida’s legislature preps for a special session.
Health care spending has been the big division in Florida’s budget thanks to a billion-dollar hospital fund that’s ending. Federal officials want Florida to expand Medicaid to cover Florida’s uninsured, and hospitals have been pushing for expansions.
During the recently-concluded legislative session, Senate President Andy Gardiner constantly warned about the threat to the state's hospitals if they were to lose more than $1 billion that now comes from the federal government.
There's a good reason Gardiner understands hospitals: he works for one.
When it became clear that the House and Senate wouldn’t agree on a budget, Republican Gov. Rick Scott was in California trying to get shipping companies to move to Florida.
And when the Legislature was at the point of no return to either pass a budget or go home without completing the one task it’s legally required to do each year, Scott was at a Wawa gas station opening in Fort Myers.
When the Senate threatened Wednesday to bring legal action against the House for adjourning three days early with more work to be done, Scott was visiting a giant Ferris wheel in Orlando.
By Brandon Larrabee of The News Service of Florida
The decision by House leaders to end their legislative session more than three days early violated the state Constitution, a majority of the Florida Supreme Court said Friday, while ruling that it was too late to order lawmakers to return to Tallahassee.
The ruling effectively ended the 2015 regular session, which was notable for an unresolved budget controversy that caused widespread dysfunction and sharp exchanges between Republican leaders.
The surprise early exit of the Florida House from the 2015 regular session likely means that most of a legislative package dear to Senate President Andy Gardiner is dead.
Gardiner, R-Orlando, made it a priority this year to pass bills to give greater educational and vocational opportunities to people with disabilities --- or, as Gardiner likes to call them, "unique abilities."
Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 2:22 pm
The Republican-controlled Florida legislature — at odds over the question of whether to expand Medicaid — abruptly ended its session three days early on Tuesday, leaving hundreds of bills that are unrelated to health care unfinished.
Andy Gardiner, president of Florida's state Senate, says he's disappointed with the House's decision to stop negotiating and leave town.
The Florida House adjourned its annual session three days early because of a budget impasse with the Senate over Medicaid expansion.
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said Tuesday afternoon that his members had done all they could and felt it was best to return later with a clean slate.
The House has been adamantly opposed to expanding Medicaid to more than 800,000 Floridians, even though the Senate has proposed a plan that would allow the state to eventually privatize Medicaid and require recipients to work or attend school.
The Florida House passed a bill Monday to study and regulate fracking, as well as prevent local governments from banning the oil and gas drilling practice.
Democrats strongly opposed the bill, saying hydraulic fracturing would put the water supply at risk and the practice should instead be banned. But Republicans said fracking isn't regulated right now and the bill would ensure that it's done safely.
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.
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.
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.
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.