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News from Tallahassee for 3/10/14
‘It’s All About Hope’ -- and $51B posted on 3/7/14
by Carol Gentry | Health News Florida
A lot of money - $200 million a month or $7 million a day – could be used to buy health coverage for Florida's poor. But it all could go to some other state, said advocates who held a Capitol press conference Wednesday with the message: “Take the Money!”
The money in question is the estimated $51 billion over 10 years that is sitting in Washington D.C., to be sent to Florida to buy health coverage for the poor. If Florida doesn’t take it, they said, it will go to some other state, said Dr. Mona Mangat of St. Petersburg, who drove a big blue bus with three other doctors and 15 navigators to Tallahassee for the event...
Political courage is what speakers at the Tallahassee press conference Wednesday want. They didn’t name names, but they were clearly referring to House Speaker Will Weatherford and fellow Republicans, as Democrats in 2013 all were in favor of Negron's plan. Republicans in Florida have tried to avoid even talking about the issue this year, with an election coming in November.
There is an exception: Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah. He has filed a bill (SB 710) that would accept the federal funds and use them for an Arkansas-style private option. A long-shot companion bill in the House (HB 869) is sponsored by Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey.
Murphy said at the press conference that she “jumped for joy” when she learned there was a Republican senator willing to put his name on the bill.
Garcia knows it’s an uphill fight, but one he believes in “passionately.” Asked why he is optimistic when his colleagues are saying the bill won’t fly, Garcia pointed to his forehead, and a spot of ash to signify his aprticipation in Ash Wednesday worship.
“It’s all about hope,” Garcia said.
Scott bashes Obamacare during Cabinet meeting posted on 3/7/14
by MATT DIXON | Scripps/Tribune Capital Bureau
TALLAHASEE _ One of Gov. Rick Scott’s most recent campaign talking points flowed over into the state Capitol on Thursday, when he hammered President Barack Obama for rate cuts to a program that serves 1.3 million Florida seniors.
Under the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, rates are being cut by anywhere from 1.9 to 3.3 percent to Medicare Advantage providers.
The program serves 30 percent of all Medicare patients, and is operated by private companies that contract with Medicare.
The plans often offers features, such as gym memberships, above regular Medicare plans. Rate cuts mean, among other effects, benefit cuts for enrollees and political ammunition for Republicans.
“These Medicare cuts that the president has caused are the wrong thing for Florida seniors,” Scott said in a web ad produced by his campaign.
It’s a message Scott isn’t leaving just to the campaign trail.
“The president should stop these cuts that are negatively impacting so many seniors,” he said during Thursday’s meeting of the state Cabinet, a board that doesn’t have any involvement in the federal program’s cuts.
Nursing Home Oversight Reconsidered posted on 3/7/14
by staff | Health News Florida
Federal agencies are teaming up to improve oversight of nursing homes, a practice that now misses a third of the cases of substandard care, according to Kaiser Health News.
The March 3 Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General report estimated one-third of nursing home residents “suffered harm” due to substandard care, and that nearly 60 percent of the incidents were preventable. However, current practices make it unlikely that inspectors would catch it, KHN says.
Officials say this report will influence new rules being developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The Affordable Care Act requires that new policies be created to improve patient care, KHN says.
by brendan farrington | AP
..The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee approved a bill (HB 843) Wednesday that would allow medical use of a marijuana strain called "Charlotte's Web."
The strain has low levels of THC, which makes people high, and normal levels of CBD, which is used to treat seizures. It marks the first time a Florida legislative committee has approved any form of medical marijuana...
The bill sets conditions on the possession and use of the marijuana. It will have to contain less than 0.8 percent THC. On average, marijuana has about 15 percent THC, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
It also can't be smoked. In Colorado, the strain is converted into an oil before children are treated with it. Use of it will also require a doctor's approval.
Senate, House Differ on Telemedicine posted on 3/6/14
by JIM SAUNDERS | NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
A Senate committee Wednesday approved a proposal aimed at boosting the use of the telemedicine in Florid, a plan that differs significantly from the House’s plan.
The Senate Health Policy Committee voted 7-2 for a measure (SPB 7028) that would establish guidelines and requirements for health providers who want to treat patients remotely through the use of Internet and telecommunications technology.
A House select committee on Monday passed its version (HB 751), but the two chambers appear to disagree about the amount of regulation that should be applied to telemedicine. The House version includes relatively light regulation. But the Senate bill, for example, would limit the definition of telemedicine providers to physicians.
The Florida Nurses Association and other groups objected to such a limitation Wednesday. Stan Whittaker, chairman of the Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners, said nurse practitioners would be "severely limited, if not left out, by the bill."
When asked about the issue, Senate Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, pointed to the fact that physicians have been to medical school. The only dissenters on the Senate committee were Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring.
Bean and others cautioned that the Senate bill likely will face changes as the legislative session moves forward. "It's a start," Bean said. "We've got a long way to go."
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