Monday, April 23, 2018
Health

Unions sue over plan to privatize prison health care system

TALLAHASSEE — Two labor unions have filed suit against the state Department of Corrections in an effort to prevent privatizing health care for all 100,000 inmates in the Florida prison system.

It's the latest controversy in the outsourcing of inmate health that began as a campaign pledge by Gov. Rick Scott. Protests by health vendors objecting to the original bid specifications have delayed the plan by months and contributed to ousting Scott's former prison chief.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Federation of Physicians and Dentists/Alliance of Healthcare and Professional Employees.

It was filed Tuesday, the same day the state Senate voted 21-19 to reject privatization of more than two dozen prisons and work camps in South Florida.

"The move to the privatize prison health services was done through illegal channels and will not stand in a court of law," said Jeanette Wynn, president of AFSCME Council 79. "This callous political overreach was rejected by Leon County courts last year and will surely be struck down a second time."

The Department of Corrections had no comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in Circuit Court in Tallahassee.

The privatization of all inmate physician and mental health care, dental care and dispensation of prescription drugs was mandated by the Legislature in the 2011 budget in language known as proviso — not as a stand-alone bill.

In their lawsuit, the unions use many of the same legal arguments another labor group used successfully last summer to thwart privatizing South Florida prisons.

The suit alleges that any prison privatization must be accompanied by a specific legislative appropriation; that the issue must be limited in law to a single subject; and that before a contract can be issued, the prison system must complete a business plan showing cost savings.

As a candidate for governor in 2010, Scott promised to save taxpayers money by requiring competitive bids on health care contracts.

But Scott's choice to run Florida prisons, Ed Buss, was ousted last summer in part because the governor's office disapproved of his office's handling of the health care bid proposal.

Bids on the health care contract were due Feb. 6, and the prison system hopes to have contracts in place by April 1.

Comments
Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Public health officials are now telling consumers to avoid all types of romaine lettuce because of an E. coli outbreak linked to the vegetable that has spread to at least 16 states and sickened at least 60 people, including eight inmates at an Alask...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

As she nears death at age 92, former first lady Barbara Bush’s announcement that she is seeking "comfort care" is shining a light — and stirring debate — on what it means to stop trying to fight terminal illness.Bush, the wife of former President Geo...
Published: 04/17/18
Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

When the patient got violent, Dr. Michelle Hidalgo didn’t have time to think. She had to react. The woman was moving strangely and seemed erratic. Hidalgo had to make a tough call — it was time to physically restrain her for everyone’s safety.Then th...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Lung cancer patients live longer with immune therapy

The odds of survival can greatly improve for people with the most common type of lung cancer if, along with the usual chemotherapy, they are also given a drug that activates the immune system, a major new study has shown.The findings should change me...
Published: 04/16/18
Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

A Pennsylvania food manufacturer is recalling 8, 757 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products following an E. coli outbreak that has spread to several states and sickened dozens of people.Fresh food Manufacturing Co., based in Freedom, Pennsylvania, is ...
Published: 04/15/18
St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

ST. PETERSBURGSister Mary McNally, vice president of mission at St. Anthony’s Hospital, stood in front of a room of cancer survivors to unveil a silver bell surrounded by butterfly stickers mounted to the wall of the Cancer Center lobby. "So often pe...
Published: 04/13/18
Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Washing your hands after you use the bathroom is a good idea. But using a public dryer could undo all that hard work, according to a new study.A study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, examined 36 men’s and women’s bat...
Published: 04/13/18
Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

The annual St. Anthony’s Triathlon has for years attracted elite athletes from around the world, making the St. Petersburg race one of the premier triathlon events in the country. There’s a big incentive to run fast, swim hard and be the best on a bi...
Published: 04/13/18