News from Tallahassee for 12/18/14

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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Florida is No. 32 in health rankings posted on 12/11/14

by AP

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A new report places Florida as the 32nd healthiest state in the nation.

The report released Wednesday by UnitedHealth Foundation says that in the past year the percentage of Floridians who smoke decreased slightly, from 17.7 percent to 16.8 percent.

The percentage of adults who binge drink also dropped, from 16.5 percent to 15.5 percent.

However, more than a quarter of Floridians are physically inactive, slightly higher than the national rate. The report also says about 1 in 12 babies in Florida are born underweight.

Hawaii was ranked the healthiest state, and Mississippi was ranked the least healthy one.

Scott Reappoints Dudek to Health Administration posted on 12/10/14

by ap

Governor Rick Scott is reappointing Elizabeth Dudek to oversee the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.

Dudek has been the head of the agency since 2011. Together, they helped privatize the Medicaid program, paying private insurance companies a set fee for roughly 3 million Medicaid recipients instead of the state paying for each service patients incur.

Scott also praised Dudek for overseeing that Florida hospitals were prepared for Ebola.

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