Florida Legislature

HNF Stories
9:01 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Sheriff Explains Medical Pot Bill Support

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri

The latest push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is getting support from law enforcement.

Back in November, voters defeated Amendment 2, and state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, now wants to run the idea by Florida's legislature.

One supporter of this legislative approach is Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who tells WUSF News that  while he opposed Amendment 2,  there's more to like in SB 528.

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HNF Stories
1:28 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

GOP Lawmaker Files Medical Marijuana Bill

Credit AP

There's a new push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, and a Republican lawmaker is leading the charge.

Though a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana failed in November, Republican lawmaker state Sen. Jeff Brandes has filed a bill to make medical marijuana legal for Florida residents.

"Amendment Two really was kind of a take-it-or-leave-it offer," said Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. 

Brandes filed SB 528 Monday afternoon.

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HNF Stories
9:14 am
Tue January 20, 2015

Lost Federal Money Quandary for Hospitals

UF Shands Hospital, Gainesville
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Florida health officials and lawmakers are facing a quandary over how to replace the likely annual loss of $1.3 billion in federal funds which compensate hospitals and providers that care for large numbers of uninsured and Medicaid patients.

The state has known for some time that the so-called low-income pool funding will likely end in June. It's still unclear what the bottom line impact will be on the state budget, but the seemingly inevitable loss in hospital funding could be just the ammunition that Medicaid expansion proponents have been looking for.

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HNF Stories
8:33 am
Wed January 14, 2015

FL Sees Increase in Calls to Human Trafficking Hotline

Florida child welfare officials say calls reporting suspected human trafficking in Florida have doubled since 2010.

The hotline received nearly 1,000 calls last year, compared to 480 in 2011.

The Department of Children and Families said Tuesday that the increase is a result of a successful awareness and education campaign about human trafficking.

Secretary Mike Carroll says very few people are unaware of what human trafficking is, which was not true four years ago.

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HNF Stories
1:45 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Report's Forecast Grim for Hospitals

Joan Alker

Florida’s “safety-net” hospitals – the ones that provide the most charity care -- received another in a series of depressing projections Wednesday in a report from Florida Legal Services.  

Taken together, the three reports issued to date by the patient-advocacy organization describe a pending loss of $2 billion a year to the state’s health-care providers for the poor. Federal funding that has propped them up is scheduled to end June 30, Florida Legal Services said.

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HNF Stories
8:16 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Bill Aims to Stop Sexual Orientation Therapy

Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth
Credit Florida Senate

Legislation has been filed at the capitol that would prevent therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation of kids under the age of 18.

Under bills in both the Florida House and Senate, psychologists, social workers and other mental health providers who are licensed by the state could face disciplinary action if they try to change a minor’s sexual orientation.

Sen. Jeff Clemens has sponsored the legislation, saying parents need to learn how to deal with having a gay child, rather than trying to make the kid change.

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HNF Stories
8:32 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Senate Hopeful Inspired by Medicaid Expansion Loses

  Democratic candidate Judithanne McLauchlan, who was inspired to run for Florida Senate District 22 against incumbent Republican Jeff Brandes because he was the only vote in the Senate against an alternative to Medicaid expansion, lost 57 percent to 43 percent.

During the 2013 Legislative session, Brandes was the lone vote against state Sen. Joe Negron’s alternative to Medicaid expansion. The plan, which would have drawn down $51 billion in federal funding over 10 years under the Affordable Care Act, was ultimately defeated by the Republican-controlled House.   

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Health News Florida
8:35 am
Mon October 13, 2014

If Pot Passes, Legislature Has Sway

Advocates and foes of the upcoming medical marijuana amendment aren’t talking much about the role Florida’s Legislature would play if it becomes law, the Miami Herald reports.

Lawmakers have a significant say in the rules about who obtains and distributes medical marijuana but the campaigns are focusing on what voters want, according to the Herald.

HNF Stories
3:35 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Medicaid Expansion Inspires FL Senate Candidate

Medicaid expansion is an issue in the race for Florida’s Senate District 22, a swing district that covers most of Pinellas County and extends to South Tampa.

"This is an issue that propelled me into the race because I am running against the only senator that voted against the Medicaid expansion,” Democrat Judithanne McLauchlan said.

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HNF Stories
8:44 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Candidate Forum Focuses on Health

Credit Lottie Watts / WUSF

Democratic candidates were the only ones to show at a legislative forum organized by the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative. And each one said Florida needs to take federal funding to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The participants included Lorena Grizzle (D) – House District 66 candidate; Steve Sarnoff (D) – House District 67 candidate; Scott Orsini (D) - House District 69 candidate; and Judithanne McLauchlan (D) – Senate District 22 candidate.

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HNF Stories
7:27 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Crist Would Push Lawmakers To Expand Health Care Coverage

Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist told the Miami Herald editorial board that he wants a special session to try and convince lawmakers to expand state-run health care coverage for low-income residents.

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 7:18 am

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist says if he’s elected, he wants a special session to expand a state-run health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

Crist says Florida could cover an additional one million people by expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

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9:23 am
Mon August 4, 2014

Lawmaker: Report All Child Deaths

The chair of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee wants all child deaths - not just suspicious ones - to be reported in Florida, the News Service of Florida reports. As of July 1, under legislation pushed by State Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, the state Department of Children and Families has to produce a report that includes deaths of children in cases where abuse has been documented. But Sobel says it’s not enough: cases of neglect could still be slipping through the cracks. As Margie Menzel with News Service reports, Sobel will introduce a bill next session requiring all deaths of children to be reported.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The Senate sponsor of Florida's sweeping new child-welfare law says she'll be back next year with a bill to expand its reporting requirements. Sen. Eleanor Sobel, chairwoman of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, said the new law doesn't go far enough in requiring all children's deaths to be reported.
Health News Florida
10:10 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Rubio Says Some Medical Pot OK

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio
Credit AP

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has come out in support of the non-euphoric medical marijuana approved by the Florida Legislature, the Miami Herald reports. 

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10:35 am
Wed July 30, 2014

FMA Funneling $ for Attack Ads

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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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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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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