News from Tallahassee for 2/1/15

Doctors Could Face New Requirement If Performing Abortions posted on 1/6/15

by News Service of Florida

A Northwest Florida lawmaker filed a proposal Monday that would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

The proposal (HB 147), filed by Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola Beach, is similar to measures that have spurred political and legal battles in other states. It would require physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals 30 miles or less from where the abortions take place.

Supporters have argued such proposals help ensure patient safety, while critics contend the requirements are designed to make it harder to provide abortions.

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Troubled Plans Top Health News in 2014 posted on 12/22/14

by mary shedden | health news florida

Take a look at the top health care stories in Florida in 2014, and it’s clear that the business of Medicare and Medicaid continued to dominate the news.

Good news -- and plenty of bad, too -- topped the most read stories on Health News Florida in the past year. And yes, the glitches and changes tied to new Affordable Care Act rules created plenty of buzz as well.

The competition over coveted Medicaid managed care contracts was a reader favorite early in the year. Meanwhile, Medicare Advantage plans at the top of their game – and those mired in controversy and financial calamities – were attention getters throughout the year.

Some of these important health stories kept going, long after the first headline caught your attention. And we’ll continue to do our best to keep your updated in 2015. But now, here’s a look back at the top 10 stories of the past year:

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Health care secretary Liz Dudek says she’d like to “ride out” Rick Scott’s second term posted on 12/18/14

by Christine Jordan Sexton | SaintPetersblog

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth “Liz” Dudek just finished implementing a statewide mandatory managed care program for the fifth largest Medicaid program in the nation.

What does she plan to do now?

Dudek rattles off an ambitious “to do” list s that she said she’d like to accomplish in the next four years as she hopes to “ride out” Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s second term in office as agency secretary.

“After that,” Dudek says, “There are probably some other people who should be at the helm.”

In a year-end interview with Saintpetersblog in her Tallahassee office on Monday Dudek said that she’d like to make health care budgeting a little more “cut and dry” by implementing a DRG–or diagnostic related group–reimbursement system for health care services paid for by Medicaid.

Dudek said DRGs could be implemented for hospital outpatient services, nursing home care as well as reimbursement for intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled.

Currently Medicaid reimburses for these services using a cost-based per diem system, meaning facilities receive payments based on how much it cost them to treat the patient while in the hospital. Under DRGs, providers are paid a fixed amount based on a patient’s diagnosis. If care can be provided for less than the DRG, then it makes money. If treatment exceeds the DRG, the facilitiy loses money.

DRGs are currently used for hospital inpatient services.

Other things on Dudek’s to-do list include simplifying online licensing in the Division of Health Quality Assurance which regulates 45,000 health care facilities throughout the state and retooling the agency so staff to reflect the changes in the Medicaid program which has been set up to pay and monitor a fee for service delivery system, not a managed care system.

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Scott names new legal adviser, reappoints surgeon general posted on 12/16/14

by john kennedy | Palm Beach Post

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott continued to solidify his second-term administration Monday, appointing a new general counsel and retaining his current surgeon general, who heads the state Health Department.

In naming Tim Cerio as general counsel, Scott replaced one-time Palm Beach County State Attorney Pete Antonacci as his top legal adviser.

Scott also reappointed Dr. John Armstrong as the state’s surgeon general and chief of the state’s Health Department. Armstrong has been on the job two years.

Cerio, currently an attorney with the firm GrayRobinson in Tallahassee, will take over Jan. 5. He previously served as chief of staff and general counsel at the Florida Department of Health from 2005 to 2007 when Jeb Bush was governor.

“I look forward to Tim joining our team and helping us make Florida the best state in the nation for job growth,” Scott said.

Antonacci, who will continue as special counsel for a brief transition period, served 10 months as Palm Beach County’s top prosecutor after Michael McAuliffe resigned to take a job with Oxbow Carbon, an energy company led by Bill Koch of Palm Beach. After Dave Aronberg was elected state attorney in November 2012, Antonacci became Scott’s general counsel.

It wasn’t immediately clear Monday what Antonacci, 66, plans to do next.

“Pete Antonacci is a friend and he has done a great job as general counsel and I appreciate all he has done to help make Florida a better place for families,” Scott said.

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PolitiFact's Lie of the Year is exaggerations about ebola posted on 12/16/14

by Angie Drobnic Holan, Aaron Sharockman | PolitiFact

Thomas Eric Duncan left Monrovia, Liberia, on Sept. 19, for Dallas. Eleven days later, doctors diagnosed Duncan with Ebola.

Eight days after that, he was dead.

Duncan’s case remains one of two Ebola-related fatalities in the United States, and since Duncan traveled to Dallas, more Americans -- at least nine, and likely many more -- have died from the flu.

Yet fear of the disease stretched to every corner of America this fall, stoked by exaggerated claims from politicians and pundits. They said Ebola was easy to catch, that illegal immigrants may be carrying the virus across the southern border, that it was all part of a government or corporate conspiracy.

The claims -- all wrong -- distorted the debate about a serious public health issue. Together, they earn our Lie of the Year for 2014.

PolitiFact editors choose the Lie of the Year, in part, based on how broadly a myth or falsehood infiltrates conventional thinking. In 2013, it was the promise made by President Barack Obama and other Democrats that "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it." While no singular line about Ebola matched last year’s empty rhetoric about health care, the statements together produced a dangerous and incorrect narrative.

PolitiFact and PunditFact rated 16 separate claims about Ebola as Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire on our Truth-O-Meter in 2014. Ten of those claims came in October, as Duncan’s case came to the fore and as voters went to the polls to select a new Congress.

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