News Service of Florida

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Slightly more than 13 percent of Florida adults smoked in 2017, but they go through more tobacco than average smokers nationally, a draft report given Tuesday to Florida health officials shows.

Hospitals nationwide overbilled the Medicare program as much as $25.8 million for providing patients an advanced type of radiation procedure used to treat difficult-to-reach tumors on an outpatient basis.

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A political committee formed last month has raised $1.25 million to help fight a proposed constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in the state.

The committee, Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3, Inc., filed paperwork with the state July 18 and raised the money from Aug. 1 through Aug. 7.

Contributions included $500,000 from Jacksonville Greyhound Racing, Inc., a Northeast Florida gambling operator, and $250,000 from Fontainebleau Florida Hotel, LLC of Miami Beach, according to campaign-finance reports.

NPR

Pointing in part to statements made by lawmakers, attorneys for a woman arrested in a shooting outside a Miami nightclub filed a 40-page brief late Wednesday at the Florida Supreme Court arguing that a 2017 change in the “stand your ground” self-defense law should apply to her case. 

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The Obama administration improperly paid insurance companies and HMOs nearly $434 million in 2014 when Affordable Care Act policies first became available, according to a new federal inspector general’s report. 

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Gov. Rick Scott issued an emergency order Monday and provided $1.5 million to help clean up water and bring back tourists to Southwest Florida after the latest outbreak of red tide. 

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Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida continue upping the ante as they try to pass a constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in the state. 

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State health officials will hold a workshop Aug. 17 to take input on the application process for new medical marijuana licenses. 

NPR

Republicans are on the verge of scuttling an effort by Democrats to hold a special legislative session on the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law. 

Florida Supreme Court
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The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday at least temporarily blocked the release of surveillance video related to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as a legal battle continues about whether the footage should be turned over to media organizations.

A panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal last month ruled that media organizations should receive the security-camera footage from the afternoon when a gunman killed 17 people at the Parkland school.

Amy Green/WMFE

Cleanup rules are being waived for the removal of dead fish from areas of red tide in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. 

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Seven different companies want to establish new hospitals or offer new services at existing hospitals across Florida, but at least some of the proposals aren’t in areas where the state says there’s a need. 

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Pointing in part to smoking-related health effects, Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office on Friday filed a 57-page brief arguing that an appeals court should uphold a decision by the Legislature to ban smoking medical marijuana. 

WMFE

Political broadsides continue over who is to blame for ongoing water-quality problems across South Florida, as Gov. Rick Scott on Friday ordered more action to address red tide in coastal communities. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Who says doctors and insurers are at odds? The Florida Medical Association’s philanthropic arm has joined with its counterpart at Aetna to try to combat obesity. 

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As they address environmental issues on the campaign trail, Florida’s gubernatorial candidates are all for doing what is necessary to eliminate toxic algae outbreaks and for preserving natural springs and rivers.

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A state appeals court Wednesday cleared the way for a lawsuit stemming from injuries suffered by a psychiatric patient who was beaten by another patient at a Miami-Dade County facility. 

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Siding with the University of Miami, an appeals court Wednesday upheld the constitutionality of a 2011 state law designed to shield some medical schools and doctors from liability in medical-malpractice cases.

WMFE

A fight over who should provide care for patients struggling with HIV and AIDS is growing increasingly bitter as opponents continue to blame Gov. Rick Scott. 

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Tampa-based Argus Dental and Vision withdrew a legal challenge to recently awarded contracts in Florida’s new Medicaid dental program, clearing the way for the state to move ahead with what one official described as the “broadest dental package ever available” to Medicaid beneficiaries. 

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A Canadian love-fest for Florida pot companies continues to blossom with a $93 million deal that includes a Ruskin-based grower yet to begin selling marijuana products.

Cathy Carter/WUSF

Florida’s Legislative Black Caucus intends to file legislation for the 2019 session to readdress the state's “stand your ground” self-defense law after the July 23 shooting death of Markeis McGlockton in the parking lot of a Clearwater convenience store. 

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After three years as a target of ire amid delays and disputes clouding Florida's nascent medical-marijuana industry, Christian Bax is stepping down as the state's pot czar.

WMFE

An administrative law judge Friday recommended that the state revoke the license of a Jupiter-based chiropractor accused of sexual misconduct. 

Sammy Mack/Health News Florida

There’s one less Medicaid contract challenge the state Agency for Health Care Administration will have to try to fend off before an administrative law judge. 

Office of the Governor

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed a public-records lawsuit Thursday in Leon County circuit court alleging that Gov. Rick Scott’s staff refused to provide copies of his public calendar and travel schedule. 

Memorials for the students who perished during the Parkland School shooting.
WLRN

News organizations are entitled to obtain surveillance video showing the law enforcement response to the Valentine's Day mass shooting that killed 17 people at a Florida high school, an appeals court ruled Wednesday.

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The number of Medicaid patients in Florida could be decreasing like never before. Members of the state’s Social Services Estimating Conference on Wednesday agreed to revise downward overall Medicaid enrollment estimates for fiscal year 2018-2019 from 4.02 million people to 3.86 million people. 

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While the number is down from the past two years, Florida has had 59 reported cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in 2018, according to a state Department of Health website.

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Twenty-seven legal challenges filed by managed-care plans protesting state decisions to award $90 billion in Medicaid contracts have been grouped into five cases that will be heard in administrative court next month.

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