Florida Legislature

HNF Stories
9:17 am
Wed May 20, 2015

Scott's Hospital Commission to Meet

Gov. Rick Scott's hospital commission will meet for the first time today.
Credit WMFE

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.

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HNF Stories
8:44 am
Mon May 4, 2015

FL Lawmakers Push Bills Tied To Their Private Jobs

Credit MyFloridaHouse.gov

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.

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HNF Stories
8:43 am
Mon May 4, 2015

While Lawmakers Feud, Scott Visits Ferris Wheel, Wawa

Credit Associated Press

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.

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HNF Stories
8:53 am
Sun May 3, 2015

Justices: House Adjournment Violated Constitution

  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.

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HNF Stories
8:47 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Gardiner's Agenda On Disabilities Mostly Dies With House Exit

Senate President Andy Gardiner
Credit MyFloridaHouse.gov

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."

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HNF Stories
8:14 am
Wed April 29, 2015

House Adjourns 3 Days Early Over Healthcare Fight; Major Policy Bills Are Dead

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 9:51 pm

The Florida House has adjourned for the 2015 lawmaking session. The move comes as the legislature was gridlock over whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

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HNF Stories
8:13 am
Wed April 29, 2015

'Right To Try Act' Heads To Governor

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 6:21 pm

Among the measures that did not die over the budget impasse between the House and Senate is a bill making it easier for terminally ill patients to have access to experimental drugs.

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HNF Stories
3:55 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Florida's House Quits Early, At Impasse Over Medicaid Expansion

Florida state Senate president Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, was applauded by his fellow senators Tuesday, after expressing his disappointment with the Florida House for ending its session three days early, instead of working through the budget clash.
Steve Cannon AP

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.

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HNF Stories
2:08 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

FL House Adjourns 3 Days Early Over Budget Impasse

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli
Credit Florida Legislature

  

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.

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HNF Stories
9:14 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Florida House Passes Fracking Regulation Bill

Fracking at Marcellus Shale
Credit U.S. Geological Survey

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.

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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
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
9:01 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
8:51 am
Tue April 7, 2015

Gardiner's Child with Down Syndrome Inspires Bills

Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and his family.
Credit The Florida Channel

As Andy Gardiner and his wife, Camille, drove home from the Orlando hospital with their newborn son 11 years ago, in shock at having just learned he had Down syndrome, they made a decision that reverberates in the Florida Legislature today.

With Gardiner now in the powerful post of state Senate president, lawmakers are poised to pass legislation that will put Florida on the cutting edge in education, savings and employment opportunities for the intellectually disabled.

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HNF Stories
9:28 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Health-Care News Casts Doubt on Budget

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, conceded that the news from the federal government could complicate plans to finish the session.
Credit Florida Senate

  The Florida Senate unanimously approved an $80.4 billion budget on Wednesday, hours before the state's health-care agency said the federal government had suspended negotiations on a $2.2 billion pot of money that is part of a conflict between the House and the Senate.

The announcement of a break in the talks between state and federal officials cast further doubt on whether the Legislature could finish its work on the budget in time for the scheduled May 1 end of the session.

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HNF Stories
9:25 am
Thu April 2, 2015

FL: Federal Government Suspending Health Care Talks

Florida officials said late Wednesday that the federal government is suspending negotiations over the potential loss of more than $1 billion in money now flowing to the state's hospitals.

The move comes at a critical time: The Florida Legislature is trying to finalize a new state budget between now and the end of the session on May 1. Senate Republicans have vowed that they will not vote for a budget if it requires large cuts to hospitals.

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HNF Stories
9:12 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Lawmakers Look To Revamp Mental-Health Services

Legislation aimed at revamping Florida's system of delivering mental-health services is moving in the House and Senate and is gaining momentum.

The House version (HB 7119), which would hold providers to a new set of performance measures and open the bidding on state contracts to for-profit firms, was unanimously approved Tuesday by the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.

In the Senate, a comparable measure (SB 7068) will get its second hearing Thursday in the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.

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HNF Stories
8:48 am
Wed April 1, 2015

FL Senators Meet with Feds Over Health Care Money

Credit Florida Senate

 

 Amid growing budget discord that could derail this year's session of the Florida Legislature, Senate President Andy Gardiner dispatched two top Republican senators to Washington to talk with federal officials about more than $1 billion in health care grants the state could soon lose.

Gardiner, an Orlando Republican who works for a hospital, took the unusual step even as top officials with the administration of Gov. Rick Scott are directly negotiating with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Obama administration.

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HNF Stories
8:23 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Despite Opposition, Abortion Waiting Period Bill Passes First Senate Panel

Barbara Devane (left) of Florida NOW and Terri Wonder representing the Manatee County's Democratic Women's Club as well as the Democratic Women's Club of Florida speaking to reporters Tuesday, following a Senate hearing.

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 5:55 pm

A controversial abortion bill passed its first Senate committee Tuesday, despite much opposition.

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8:36 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Abortion Restriction Bills Moving Forward

The Florida Legislature is considering several new measures to restrict abortions, including one with a strong chance of passage that calls for a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can undergo the procedure.

That measure, House Bill 0633, would require that a woman make one trip to the clinic for legally required counseling before coming back 24 hours later for the procedure. Another measure, House Bill 147, with less chance of passage, would require that abortion clinic doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.

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HNF Stories
8:50 am
Mon March 30, 2015

In Tallahassee, There's a Low-Profile Push for Child Welfare

 

  In a state legislative session preoccupied with gambling, guns, booze and tax cuts, the Children's Movement of Florida is pushing a cause that gets little attention: health care and early education for children from poor families.

It may not draw high-powered lobbyists to the Capitol rotunda, but Vance Aloupis, director of the group, said it's about the future.

"Way too often these issues that are truly foundational to the future of our state are going unnoticed," he said. "Every year we drag our feet, a child gets a year older."

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7:55 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Senate Health Panel OKs Consumer Bills

Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville
Credit WLRN

Bills aimed at helping patients save money on contact lenses and confront fewer hurdles in access to drugs passed the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee on Monday. The panel also passed a bill to crack down on rogue clinics that escape state oversight by taking only cash.

Here are details:

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HNF Stories
3:46 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Lawmakers Mull Changes to State Worker Health Insurance

A proposal that would redesign the state group health insurance plan passed the Florida House Committee on Health and Human Services Thursday morning. 

The proposed redesign could affect the 360,000 current employees, retirees and their dependents that are covered by the program.

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3:03 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Health Expansion, LIP Program Divide Budget Proposals

In a move that creates a $5 billion divide with the House, the Senate released a budget proposal Thursday that banks on expanding health-care coverage for low-income Floridians and extending a critical funding program for hospitals.

The Senate proposal, approved by a key budget panel and touted by President Andy Gardiner, reinforces that health-care funding could be the most-vexing issue facing lawmakers during the rest of this year's legislative session.

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5:00 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

If FL Medicaid Expansion Plan Passes, Still Faces Negotiations With Feds

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.
Credit Georgetown University Health Policy Institute

A plan to provide health care coverage to 800,000 Floridians faces an uphill battle after unanimous approval by the Senate Health Policy Committee.

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9:13 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Budget, Health Care Issues Cloud Legislature's Opening Day

Senate President Andy Gardiner
Credit MyFloridaHouse.gov

  The Republican-led Florida Legislature kicked off its annual session Tuesday with the usual pomp, but the celebratory nature was overshadowed by lingering questions about the state budget, tax cuts and health care.

The two GOP legislators in charge opened the session by stressing areas on which they plan to work in tandem over the next 60 days. That included dealing with the state's standardized testing system.

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12:01 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Billions at Stake as State, Feds Negotiate Medicaid

Wikimedia Commons

When the 2015 legislative session begins next week, many of the state’s decisions on health care for the poor are on hold as state and federal Medicaid officials negotiate over funding, behind closed doors. Billions of dollars are at stake.

When it comes to health-care funding, Florida’s in a funny position. The state has twice turned down billions of dollars from federal Medicaid that would have covered care for about a million poor Floridians.

This year may be no different.

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