Medicaid

Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach announced Thursday it was laying off 39 employees, trimming benefits and taking other actions to reduce expenses by $10 million, according to a memo from top  hospital officials obtained by Health News Florida.

“We must become more efficient,” stated the memo, from President and CEO Jeffrey L. Susi and Dan Janicak, chief financial and operating officer.

Florida has the second-highest rate of uninsured adults under 65 in the nation, second only to Texas, the Naples Daily News reports. U.S. Census figures from 2011 show nearly 25 percent of Floridians under 65 don’t have health insurance -- a total of about 3.8 million residents, the Miami Herald reports.

Bob Mack / Florida Times-Union

In 2000, an organization made plans to build a clinic to bring care to the medically underserved in Jacksonville.  Since then, lawmakers have handed over $900,000 to Northwest Quadrant Community Health Center, but the building wasn't completed. 

At least eight Florida Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have called for "defunding" the Affordable Care Act during budget talks in September, according to a list on a conservative blog.

Nine Florida Republican Representatives were still listed as holdouts on the Americans for Limited Government website as of Friday morning.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

When the new online health insurance marketplace opens Oct. 1, millions of people will be able to buy insurance at the click of a mouse. The federal government has a website and a hotline people can call for help. But they'll also have people who can help face-to-face. They're called "navigators."

During a stop at the USF Tampa campus last week, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said "navigators" will assist many people who have never been enrolled in a health plan before. 


Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

Two years ago, Dorothy Holmes, then 75, was in the cozy pink bathroom of her home getting ready to shower when she fell. It's the type of accident that's common among older Americans — and it's often the very thing that triggers the end of independence.

"I got a big spot on my head; it almost conked me out," Holmes says in her soft voice.

She heard her husband come down the hall, "and when he turned the corner all I heard was, 'Oh God, honey, what did you do now?' After that I don't know anything 'cause I passed out," Holmes recalls.

The newest wave in health care may be as close as your computer.  More hospitals and doctors are using technology, such as Skype, to treat patients, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.  This can benefit patients who live too far from needed specialists, as well as allowing doctors to consult colleagues when dealing with complex cases.

Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans exceeded expectations on Wall Street for the second quarter, the Associated Press reports.

On Wednesday, White House officials pointed out several ways that Floridians will benefit from Obamacare as part of an effort to convince the Florida Legislature to accept federal money to expand Medicaid coverage, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

diabetes.org

About 45,000 low-income working parents in Florida will lose their Medicaid coverage at the end of this year and become uninsured unless they quit their jobs, a coalition of children's advocacy groups says.

KidsWell Florida says this is the surprising and unintended result of a change in the income-calculation system for Medicaid combined with the Florida Legislature's refusal to expand the insurance program for the poor under the Affordable Care Act.

Federal health officials will enact strict moratoriums on certain types of Medicare and Medicaid providers in the Miami area, Medical Daily reports. The stronger bans start Tuesday, and will affect new home health providers looking to join the programs.

American Eldercare Inc., the only statewide winner of Florida Medicaid long-term-care managed-care contracts, is about to become part of Humana, the latter company said in a news release.  This will propel Humana into the role of major player in the rollout of the new state program for elderly Medicaid recipients, which begins Aug. 1.

In a media call Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stressed that Florida can still choose to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

During the legislative session, state lawmakers rejected Medicaid expansion, an optional piece of the federal health law. But the federal government said there's no real deadline, and they're trying to keep the conversation going with the states that opted against expansion. 

Finding uninsured people and helping them enroll in health plans through the new online marketplace -- set to open Oct. 1 -- will be hard. If they don't speak English, it will likely be harder still.

It presents an extra hurdle in states like California, Texas and Florida, as Kaiser Health News reports.

Associated Press

After weeks of bruising attacks on the Affordable Care Act by House Republicans and other opponents, Democrats Thursday retaliated with a one-two punch.

Health insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida invested nearly $5 million in the 2012 election cycle, only to see its top priority -- expanding Medicaid to cover 1-million uninsured Floridians —  thwarted by the Legislature, the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reports.

While Floridians ask how health-care reform will affect them, Florida CHAIN’s Greg Mellowe is in a position to be able to answer those questions.  The nonprofit’s policy director has been following news of the health-care reform, and has some solid answers for Floridians, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Dave Buchwald

Florida is the worst state in the country at providing dental care for children insured through Medicaid, the Orlando Sentinel reports. According to a study by the Pew Children's Dental Campaign, three-fourths of children who are covered by Florida Medicaid did not get regular dental care in 2011. Experts say the problem is reimbursements that are so low that only about 15 percent of Florida’s dentists will take Medicaid patients.  

Florida lawmakers are getting more criticism for not expanding Medicaid, this time from business groups, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The coalitions warn that the refusal to expand health care will put a greater burden on companies and will ultimately be bad for business.  

Broward Sheriff's Office

When the cops arrested Jorge Castillo at his Miami Lakes home on Monday, they found he lived well, with two Maseratis, a Range Rover and a boat. Small wonder, as the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.  Prosecutors say Castillo, 43, bought pharmaceutical drugs for AIDS, cancer, psychosis and other conditions from criminals.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Voters in Manatee County voted down a half-cent sales tax to provide health care to the poor, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. The tax would have bolstered the Health Care Trust Fund, which has paid for care for years but is expected to run out in 2015 .

Although two Republican representatives from Manatee County revived hope that Medicaid expansion, or something similar, may not be dead in Florida, there’s still no sign of a special session where they could work out a deal. As the Tampa Bay Times reports, there’s been no change since lawmakers ended the session without expanding healthcare to more low-income Floridians.  

On June 22, consumer-health groups across the nation will launch what they hope will be a massive education and enrollment campaign to find uninsured people and get them ready to sign up for health coverage.

While Florida lawmakers rejected Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act during the session, some Republicans in the House are now saying the issue could be possible before the end of the year, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. State Rep. Jim Boyd of Bradenton and state Rep. Greg Steube of  Sarasota, told the Sarasota Tiger Bay Club on Thursday they think there’s a possibility the state could still draw down federal funds before Jan. 1. 

Gov. Rick Scott, once one of the nation’s most vociferous opponents of the Affordable Care Act,  captured national headlines in February when he changed his tune; he urged the Florida Legislature to use the law’s Medicaid expansion funds to cover the uninsured. That didn’t happen. Now he appears to have changed his position -- or at least his message -- again, the Associated Press reports.

Florida Alliance of Retired Americans

Three House Republican leaders who blocked the expansion of health coverage to more than 1 million low-income Floridians last month will soon get a greeting card in the mail.

Continuing its pressure on the hospital system to make the pricing structure more sensible, the Obama administration on Monday released data on charges for outpatient care. They showed Floridians are charged nowhere near the same amount for similar procedures, depending on their choice of hospital outpatient site.

The data release for 30 common outpatient procedures showed, for example:

Brandon Chamber of Commerce

Florida House members are getting a lot of questions about their priorities these days after turning down $51 billion in federal funds that would have paid most of the bill to cover more than 1 million of the lowest-income Floridians. 

Lottie Watts / WUSF

 

For nearly 25 years, the Brandon Outreach Clinic has provided free health care to people who can't get care any other way. The Affordable Care Act is supposed to change that.

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