Will Weatherford

While Florida legislative leaders identified reform of the assisted-living industry as a priority, the ALF package failed for a third year, the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reports (paywall alert). Why?

The Florida Senate unanimously passed its bill (SB 248) early in the session. The House version (HB 573) got held up under heavy lobbying by the industry, according to Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.

The Legislature will consider clean-up projects for three Florida waterways this spring, but will avoid major policies that challenge the state’s polluters, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Kaiser Family Foundation

Judging from what they say and what's in the proposed state budget, Florida's top elected officials care about children, the elderly and the seriously disabled. Also, businesses of all sizes.

Others -- including the poor, the uninsured and state workers -- get less attention. There is  no provision for low-income adults to get health insurance, even though the money is available, and most state workers won't get a raise. The good news for state employees is that there won't be big staff cuts, for a change.

Sammy Mack / Health News Florida

A Republican state senator wants Florida to use federal Medicaid expansion money to help low-income Floridians purchase health insurance,  the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reports.

State Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, filed a proposal Tuesday that is similar to the bill that won support in the state Senate last year, but died in the House. Garcia said that not taking the federal money is "irresponsible."

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Despite not having all the funding accounted for yet, ground was broken Tuesday on the USF Health Heart Institute. 

The five-story, 100,000 square-foot facility will sit in the middle of the USF Health campus -- Moffitt Cancer Center and the USF Health Morsani Center take up the other three corners of the intersection where the new Institute will be based.

Each year, the Florida Department of Health is required to publish an update on the physician workforce, to help the Legislature in strategic planning. That report, which came out this month, said there are 43,406 in active practice.

And yet, two officials who appeared before a House panel examining the health care workforce on Wednesday were stumped when members asked how many physicians the state has. After members asked the questions half a dozen times, the DOH officials said they'd have to get back to the committee, which next meets in January.

Florida's top legislative leaders are coming out against a push to allow the use of marijuana for medical reasons.

House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz announced Wednesday that they will ask the Florida Supreme Court to block the proposed amendment.

In a memo Gaetz said after consulting with senate staff he had concluded that the medical marijuana amendment would mislead voters.

Florida House of Representatives

State Rep. Jose Oliva, a 40-year-old Miami Republican who runs his family’s cigar company, will be chair of the new Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation, House Speaker Will Weatherford announced Wednesday.

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed, most state governments have made the most of the federal grants flowing from Washington for health-system reform. Not Florida.

State agencies in Tallahassee have either not competed for grants or, on occasion, have won them but then given the money back.  The latest: a $2.3 million grant for a toll-free consumer health information line. A Florida agency won it, records show, then decided not to take the money.

House Speaker Will Weatherford said Florida’s rejection of Medicaid expansion is good for the country because it prevents the federal deficit from growing. But PolitiFact rated this claim Half True because he ignored some key information.  

Weatherford's Political ‘Instincts’ Failed Him on Medicaid Remarks

Mar 13, 2013

At his site Our Health Policy Matters, consultant Paul Gionfriddo writes that Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford has a duty to embrace Medicaid expansion, especially since he openly shared how the program helped his younger brother.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, who opposes expansion of Medicaid, issued a clarification on Wednesday about the "safety net" program that helped his family pay staggering medical bills for his little brother, who died as a toddler.

It turns out that the help came from the state's "Medically Needy" program, an optional add-on that extends  Medicaid to those who would normally not qualify but who have such high medical bills that they are thrust into poverty.

Bill Cotterell

 Florida’s Democratic House Minority Leader is tired of the state “dragging its feet” on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and blamed GOP lawmakers for the delay, according to the Sunshine State News.