Gov. Rick Scott and the legislative opponents to the Affordable Care Act dodged a bullet Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal health insurance subsidies, but it did little to narrow the divide between Republicans over how to handle Florida’s uninsured.
The ruling reduces the pressure on state leaders to create a state exchange to cover the 1.3 million low- and middle-income Floridians who now rely on the federal program for health insurance. But it leaves unanswered the question of how Florida will handle the loss of $400 million federal Low Income Pool money used to reimburse hospitals and health care providers who provide charity care to the uninsured....
06/25/15 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott and the legislative opponents to the Affordable Care Act dodged a bullet Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal health insurance subsidies, but it did little to narrow the divide between Republicans over how to handle Florida's uninsured.
The ruling reduces the pressure on state leaders to create a state exchange to cover the 1.3 million low- and middle-income Floridians who now rely on the federal program for health insurance. But it leaves unanswered the question of how Florida will handle the loss of $400 million in federal Low Income Pool money used to reimburse hospitals and health care providers who provide charity care to the uninsured....
Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi did not have much to say about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday upholding the Affordable Care Act subsidies to states that rely on the federal exchange but instead continued opposition to the underlying law.
"The Affordable Care Act continues to be the most heavy handed federal health care law in our nation’s history, and today’s decision in the King v. Burwell case does nothing to alleviate the harms the law will continue to cause,'' Bondi said in a statement....
UPDATE: Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday he was dropping the lawsuit filed in federal court in April, accusing the federal government of attempting to use the Low Income Pool funding to "coerce" the state into expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
The cost to taxpayers for the legal challenge: $175,000, according a contract completed Thursday with the Washington, D.C., law firm Bancroft Associates, which represented Scott in Florida's challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Download EXD053 - Bancroft_For Legal (3)...
Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner called the ruling today by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding health insurance subsidies on the federal health care exchange as ''welcome news for the 1.3 million Floridians who currently receive subsidies on the federal exchange."
But in the Florida House, where Republican leaders there intensely oppose accepting any federal money tied to expanding Medicaid for the uninsured, the reception was the opposite....
Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman James E. Billie on Wednesday put Gov. Rick Scott on notice that the tribe believes it is entitled to stop paying the state about $216 million a year and to continue offering banked card games unless the state resolves the issue in formal dispute resolution within 30 days.
Under the 2010 gaming compact with the state, the tribe has the exclusive right to operate banked card games -- blackjack, baccarat and chemin de fer -- at five of its seven casinos. But under the terms of the 20-year agreement, the tribe is permitted to continue offering banked card games for the full term of the compact if the state permits anyone else to offer such games. If the tribe is no longer the exclusive provider of the games, it also may stop making revenue payments to the state for them -- an estimated loss of about $216 million a year. ...
06/23/15 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — The tumultuous debate over the future of health care funding for the poor came to a quiet end Tuesday as the governor signed into law a budget that includes $1 billion to pay for charity care and raise Medicaid rates at Florida hospitals.
In a letter to state officials, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said they have "agreed in principle" to a Florida plan for distribution of the Low Income Pool (LIP) funds that pay for hospital care for Medicaid beneficiaries and the low-income uninsured. The plan also calls for paying higher Medicaid rates to hospitals, particularly those that care for large numbers of uninsured patients....
The federal government has given preliminary approval to the funding formula prepared by state lawmakers regarding the Low Income Pool, putting an end to the long-awaited conclusion over the future of federal money paid to hospitals for charity care.
In a letter to the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid told the state that they negotiations with state officials and legislative leaders have led to an agreement that the federal government will give Florida $1 billion this year, $600 million next year and expect that the money follow patient care, not be a substitute for Medicaid expansion. Download 6_23_15 Letter to Florida (2)...
With the ink barely dry on Gov. Rick Scott's veto of $461 million in legislatively approved projects, Sen. Jack Latvala railed against it in an interview saying, "the governor has declared war on the Legislature." He predicted Scott will face continued deterioration of relations with the Republican-controlled body.
"There’s stuff in there that he has approved in the past,'' said Latvala, R-Clearwater, chairman of the Senate budget committe on transporation and economic development. He cited the Miami project on paralysis research and the pay raise for forestry firefighters as examples of projects Scott has recommended in his budgets in the past but are now on the lengthy veto list. ...
06/22/15 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — For the second time in a month, Gov. Rick Scott is negotiating a settlement that would use taxpayer dollars to end a lawsuit that claims he violated the state Sunshine Law.
According to documents filed in the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee this month, the governor is negotiating with Tallahassee attorney Steve Andrews over a lawsuit accusing Scott of skirting state public records laws by using private email accounts to conduct public business. The negotiations began after a California judge ordered Google to turn over information that could reveal whether Scott's top staff set up the private email accounts to allow the governor to circumvent the state public records law....
For the second time in a month, Gov. Rick Scott is negotiating a settlement to use taxpayer dollars to end a lawsuit alleging he violated state Sunshine laws.
According to documents filed in First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee this month, the governor is negotiating with Tallahassee attorney Steve Andrews over a lawsuit accusing Scott of skirting state public records laws by using private email accounts to conduct public business. The negotiations began after a California judge ordered Google to turn over information that could reveal whether Scott’s top staff set up the private email accounts to allow the governor to circumvent the state public records law.
How much taxpayers will be on the hook under the settlement has not been disclosed, but it comes on the heels of another settlement in a Sunshine law violation case expected to be approved by the governor and Cabinet on Tuesday. Records show that fees in that case will cost taxpayers in excess of $228,000.
The lawsuit was brought by St. Petersburg lawyer Matthew Weidner and several media organizations, including the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times, who accused Scott and the Cabinet of violating the state’s open meeting laws when they allowed staff to use back channels to oust former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey with no public discussion or vote.
In that settlement announced last week, Scott and the three members of the state Cabinet – Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam – would agree to pay $55,000 to the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Andrea Mogensen. They would also agree to revise their policies to operate with more transparency, including turning over their private emails promptly when they conduct public business....
Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has not made it official yet, but a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll says he is already trailing U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in the 2016 U.S. Senate race.
If a matchup were held today, Lopez-Cantera would be behind by 40 to 28 percent. He is expected to announce on July 15. Also trailing Murphy is U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis: 39 to 31 percent. ...
06/20/15 State Roundup
Carlos Lopez-Cantera left little room for doubt Saturday night that he's running for U.S. Senate in 2016.
Florida's lieutenant governor told Miami-Dade County Republicans at their annual fundraising bash that he will announce his plans July 15.
Lopez-Cantera spoke at the Miami-Dade GOP's Lincoln Day dinner before Sen. Marco Rubio, the presidential candidate whom Lopez-Cantera would try to replace. The lieutenant governor used his time to outline the contours of his candidacy and said that his wife, Renee, has been one of the people encouraging him to consider a run — the clearest sign yet that Lopez-Cantera intends to jump in the race....
When the sun shone on the legislative budget agreement completed an hour before midnight Monday, the examples of who-you-know politics came to light — millions of dollars in pet projects for legislative leaders and well-connected lobbyists.
But often faring worse were those projects that didn’t have a high-profile voice — those with waiting lists of services for the adult disabled, the elderly and even public safety....
Millions of homes and businesses who are customers of Florida Power & Light will be financing as much as $500 million a year in unregulated natural gas fracking projects conducted by the state’s largest utility, state regulators decided Thursday.
The Florida Public Service Commission sided with FPL and against consumer advocates and unanimously approved guidelines that give the company carte blanche approval to charge its customers for natural gas fracking and “wildcatting” activities without oversight from regulators for the next five years....