Food deserts, areas where fresh and healthy foods can be hard to come by, are all over Florida. There are efforts under way in the Florida Legislature to provide tax incentives for grocers to open up in these areas.
"There's no single definition for a food desert, but generally, by the term, they mean that it's usually a low-income area, and an area where there are a lot of people that may have problems accessing healthy food," said Michelle Ver Ploeg, an economist with the United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.
One issue Democrats noticed was left out in Gov. Rick Scott’s State of the State address on Tuesday: Medicaid expansion.
As the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports, Democratic responses from Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, and House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, chastised Scott for not supporting the acceptance of federal money to expand Medicaid to low-income Floridians.
Florida’s 2014 Legislative session will start with the typical benign tone that comes during an election year. But it’s unclear if the Republican-led legislature can keep things status quo, the Hearld/Times Tallahassee Bureau reports.
The funding formula in Florida’s Medicaid reform law means hospitals across the state will see millions of dollars in cuts, the Tampa Bay Times reports, while a handful will see funding increase (paywall alert).
An unprecedented surge of special interest money representing health care interests has been donated to state legislative political committees, the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau reports (paywall alert).
More than 20 political committees run by state legislatures have collected more than $100,000 in soft money since 2012, the newspapers’ review found. A dozen raised more than $200,000.
The Rev. Wayne Robinson, who retired as minister of All Faiths Unitarian in Fort Myers last year, has sent members of the Legislature letters calling on them to provide health coverage to Floridians who are too poor to qualify for Healthcare.gov's subsidized plans. He is also urging other clergy members in Florida to join the movement.
In an unusually hard-hitting editorial, the Tampa Bay Times calls Gov. Rick Scott the "Tin Man as governor, a chief executive who shows no heartfelt connection to the state, appreciation for its values or compassion for its residents."
Many health insurers now require that patients undergo a "fail-first" trial of cheaper drugs before using the expensive ones, which sounds reasonable until you consider that can make them so sick they wind up in the hospital, writes Dr. Philippe A. Saxe of Delray Beach.
The chairman of the Senate panel that oversees the budget for criminal and civil justice points to the decline in arrests and delinquency as evidence that the state’s prevention-and-diversion strategy is working, the News Service of Florida reports. Now, there are bills in both chambers that would write prevention into the law that governs the Department of Juvenile Justice.
A bill that would give nurse-practitioners more authority is one of the two big health issues being pushed by the House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation, which aims to increase access to primary care.
Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 5:22 pm
South Florida's Assisted Living Facilities were the subject of a series of 2011 Miami Herald reports alleging lax oversight and abuse of residents in several South Florida facilities. Now, years later, Florida lawmakers are inching closer on bills cracking down on the industry.
Don Gaetz, president of the Florida Senate, could present a formidable obstacle to passage of a bill that would increase the powers and independence of nurse practitioners.
News Service of Florida, which interviewed Gaetz last Friday, reported he opposes a House bill that would give advanced-practice nurses more authority, including prescribing of controlled substances. The bill would also set up a pathway to independent practice, not supervised by physicians.
Though controversy over health care reform continues, America’s governors appear to agree on one thing: the Affordable Care Act is here to stay, according to the Associated Press.
This weekend in Washington D.C., Republican and Democratic governors said a complete repeal of the law would be impractical, especially since states already are implementing the ACA with varying degrees of success, the AP reports.
A bill to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors gained legislative support this week, according to the Miami Herald.
Reps. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, and Doc Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, sponsored the House version, which won approval from its first committee. The Senate version, (SB224), passed through two committees, including Appropriations.
Several cities also have made it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors, the Herald reports.
Two Tampa Bay area legislators say local communities are better suited to help the homeless than the state, and should control more of the money meant to help.
Local housing, job training and mental health services would be at the heart of the bill filed this week by state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, according to The Tampa Tribune.
Ernestine Marshall's every move is being watched: morning, noon and night.
Motion-activated sensors are everywhere in her Tampa apartment: on the toilet, the front door, even the kitchen cabinet where she stores medications help manage her multiple sclerosis.
It's been a year since the 60-year-old former teacher volunteered to let her health insurance company track her daily activities. If she oversleeps or if she’s up and down during the night, sensors around the house or those tucked into her bed trigger a check-in call from a Humana nurse.
The Senate Health Policy Committee voted 8-1 to approve a bill that would protect nursing home investors from lawsuits if their facilities are accused of abuse and neglect, the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau reports.
The bill would limit liability to the nursing home’s owner and staff, leaving investors off the hook if the facility is sued. Plaintiff's attorneys would, in return, get easier access to medical records.
For the second consecutive week, Florida’s Senate Health Policy Committee delayed voting on a comprehensive telemedicine bill.
Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said Tuesday that a last-minute amendment prompted the delay to redefine the telemedicine law first created in 2003. A few people spoke about telemedicine at the end of the meeting, but legislators deferred discussion to another meeting.
A bill that would expand the authority of nurse practitioners and open a door for some to practice independently of physicians was approved by the Florida House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation on Tuesday evening.
The vote drew bipartisan support, with only two "no votes" on a board of more than a dozen. But several members said their support was tentative, that they wanted to see further debate and some tweaks.
UPDATE 6:30 p.m.-- The House Select Committee on Workforce Innovation approved a massive bill that would expand the authority of nurse practitioners and open a door for them to practice independently. The vote, with only two dissents, followed testimony against the bill by a number of physician organizations.
With a key committee set to vote today on a bill allowing nurses more authority, doctor groups were sending out alerts to their members Monday, urging them to call their representative and register a protest.
Many Floridians like the idea of using technology to keep patients more in touch with caregivers, saving time for all concerned. But insurers have been slow to pay for telemedicine, and physicians remain uncertain about whether they can use it legally.
On Tuesday at 2 p.m., the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee will take up SPB 7028, the Florida Telemedicine Act. It would set up a method for regulating health care professionals who conduct telemedicine consults, whether in-state or across state lines.
The Florida Senate is again considering new safety regulations for parasailing operators in the wake of high-profile deaths and accidents, the News Service of Florida reports. The past six years, the parasailing industry has opposed changes saying it would increase costs. But now, the Water Sports Industry Association supports rules that would prevent parasailing during high winds and when lightning is nearby.