Rick Stone

Rick Stone has been a journalist in Florida for most of his career. He's worked in newspapers and television but believes that nothing works as well as public radio. He and his wife, Mary Jane Stone, live in Broward County.

  TALLAHASSEE -- State House Republicans emerged from a closed-door meeting on Tuesday apparently still resolved to oppose expanding Medicaid for 800,000 low-income Floridians.

Meanwhile, the Senate, in an unusual workshop session to hash out the Medicaid problem and its implications for Florida's hospitals and its economy, was hearing from the state's chief economist that the House position threatens an economic catastrophe that begins with Florida's safety net hospitals.

Florida Legislature

Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli  is reiterating his opposition  "to Obamacare and Medicaid expansion" as the issue continues lurching toward a crisis in the Legislature.

The Senate supports the expansion for about 850,000 Floridians who currently qualify neither for Medicaid nor health insurance available on HealthCare.gov.

The dispute between the chambers -- and their related budget differences -- now threaten to delay the Legislature's scheduled adjournment on May 1.

Associated Press

Florida legislators this year may vote to allow non-doctors such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe controlled substances. The move responds to Florida's doctor shortage and its developing flood of patients with new Obamacare health policies.

It's not just a Florida problem.  John McGinnity,  president of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, said a good way to describe the American doctor supply is with the old phrase "few and far between."

“We've known for a long time that we have a shortage of physicians,” McGinnity said.

The stars seem to be aligning for Medicaid expansion in the Florida Legislature this year.  After two years of blunt refusals to even consider it, some top Republicans, like Miami State Sen. Anitere Flores are saying the time has come.

"And what's interesting," Flores said after a Monday  interview with the Miami Herald editorial board, "is that you have the buy-in from the business community, from the private sector, from your nontraditional supporters of government funding."

State health policy experts said Thursday prospects for expanding Medicaid in the Legislature this year remain dim because of unwillingness in the leadership and possibly fatal flaws in the two leading proposals. And those experts warn another refusal could come with a stunning economic cost for Florida.

 Gov. Rick Scott opened fire on the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, accusing the agency of starving Florida of the information, equipment and even the testing kits the state needs to be safe from the deadly Ebola virus.

"The CDC has not fulfilled any of Florida's requests," Scott said angrily. "We are now asking publicly to support us in these important efforts for our state."