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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.