Bill would let doctors ask about guns
Doctors would still be able to ask patients questions about whether they have guns under a measure approved by a Senate committee Monday, a result of a compromise between gun rights groups and the medical establishment. The National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups had pushed for a much stronger bill that would have precluded doctors in many cases from asking patients about whether they own guns. Backers of SB 432, sponsored by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, had said patients were being harassed over gun ownership. But citing the confidentiality of what is said between doctors and patients, and a broader desire to protect other members of patients' families, doctors had pushed back hard against the bill. An amendment adopted before the committee's vote would now generally allow doctors to ask questions about gun ownership, as long as the physician doesn't "harass" the patient, and doesn't enter the information into the patient's record without a good reason. That leaves enough room that doctors now support the measure, as does the NRA. "We have an agreed-to, good bill here," said Evers.
Nursing home shield law held up
Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, asked the Senate Health Regulation Committee to postpone a vote on her bill that would limit liability of the corporate owners of nursing homes in negligence lawsuits. Bogdanoff said she wants to make changes to the proposed legislation. But before that happened, Madison resident Robert Gray talked about the deaths of both his parents in nursing homes. "My father died alone on the floor of his room in a skilled care facility, suffocating on the dinner he just ate," Gray said. Gray said nursing home staff in 2008 fed his father a large meal even though they had been instructed not to, and left him alone in his room after that meal, even though he was supposed to be supervised for two hours after eating. Eighteen months later, Gray's mother died in a nursing home when she choked on a feeding tube. Staff members, he said, ignored her cries for help. "Where's the accountability? All over the country in every state there is a call for accountability," Gray said.
Advocates for the disabled sue Scott
Gov. Rick Scott and two state agencies have been hit with a class-action lawsuit alleging Florida has failed to provide needed services to 19,000 disabled people who are stuck on a waiting list. An advocacy group and five named plaintiffs — who have developmental disabilities such as mental retardation and cerebral palsy — filed the lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee. The lawsuit centers on a waiting list for what are known as home- and community-based services, which help disabled people live outside of institutions. The lawsuit contends that the state is violating federal law and that some people have been on the waiting list for more than five years. The suit names as defendants Scott, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek and interim Agency for Persons with Disabilities director Bryan Vaughan.
Times/Herald staff writer Janet Zink contributed to this report, which includes information from the News Service of Florida.