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House Back to Debating Hospital Approval Process

October 3, 2011 - 6:00pm

Amid questions about taking a free-market approach, a House panel Tuesday reopened a long-running debate about state approval of new health facilities.

House Health Care Appropriations Chairman Matt Hudson, R-Naples, said the state has taken a series of steps in recent years to scale back the so-called Certificate of Need process. He questioned whether "we could make the free market work" for facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes.

Public Hospital Debate Set to Return

October 3, 2011 - 6:00pm

Two Senate leaders said Tuesday they expect lawmakers to plunge back into a debate next year about public hospitals, as a panel appointed by Gov. Rick Scott studies the system.

Senate Health Regulation Chairman Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, said he plans to again propose a bill that could require circuit judges to sign off on the sales or leases of public hospitals.

Florida High Court Won't Hear Jacksonville Union Case

September 27, 2011 - 6:00pm

In a win for unions, the Florida Supreme Court this week refused to take up a case that will force the city of Gainesville to collectively bargain changes in retiree health-insurance benefits.

The city, which sought to overturn a 1st District Court of Appeal ruling, argued in court documents that the case could have broad implications for government agencies that want to rein in benefit costs.

State to Appeal Decision on Trauma Care Centers

Mental-Health Firm, State Battle Over $4 Million

September 26, 2011 - 6:00pm

Contending that not enough money was spent on patient care, the state Agency for Health Care Administration is trying to recoup $4 million from a firm that manages Medicaid mental-health services.

Tampa-based Florida Health Partners Inc. challenged the agency in cases filed last week in the state Division of Administrative Hearings.

The dispute centers on whether Florida Health Partners in 2006 met a requirement that it spend 80 percent of the money it received -- known as a "medical-loss ratio" -- on caring for Medicaid patients.

Court Ruling Paves Way for State Employee Insurance Changes

September 23, 2011 - 6:00pm

Florida is moving forward with a plan that will lead to health-insurance changes for thousands of state employees now that an appeals court broke a legal logjam.

The state Department of Management Services said Friday that UnitedHealthcare of Florida signed a contract to provide HMO services in 18 counties.

That announcement came after the 1st District Court of Appeal rejected parts of a legal challenge filed by United and declined to issue a stay. The other 49 counties will be divided among five HMOs that reached agreements with the state last week.

Weekly Roundup: Legislature Getting Busy

September 23, 2011 - 6:00pm

Florida doesn't have a year-round Legislature. But it felt that way this week.

With the 2012 session starting early because of redistricting, lawmakers, staff and lobbyists traipsed back up the hill to start committee meetings.

True, the meetings included little real action. But committees got a clearer picture of the redistricting process, while also hearing presentations about tricky issues such as Medicaid reform and budget problems at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

PSC Chairman Urges Caution on Expensive Renewable-Fuel Programs

September 19, 2011 - 6:00pm

Pointing to tough economic times for consumers, the chairman of the Florida Public Service Commission cautioned Tuesday about being "overly aggressive" in adding renewable energy.

Art Graham told a House panel he thinks the state needs to move forward with renewable energy, which could include sources such as solar power and biomass, but that people do not want to pay higher utility bills now.

"It's a great thing,'' Graham said. "Florida needs to get there.But it's costly.''

'Another Tight Session' Awaits Lawmakers, Official Says

September 13, 2011 - 6:00pm

With the economy sputtering, state analysts will gather Oct. 11 and dish out bad budget news.

Amy Baker, coordinator of the Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research, said Wednesday that earlier projections of general-revenue growth this year and during the 2012-13 fiscal year will drop "fairly significantly.''

That means more difficult budget choices for lawmakers when they start the 2012 legislative session in January -- though Baker said things won't be as bad as during this spring's session, when lawmakers faced a $3.6 billion shortfall.

Baez Back at PSC, Now as Executive Director

September 8, 2011 - 6:00pm

A divided Florida Public Service Commission reached into the past Thursday as it chose former Commissioner Braulio Baez as the agency's new executive director.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to offer the PSC's top administrative post to Baez, a Miami lawyer who served from 2000 to 2006 on the commission and also worked in the 1990s as a staff member.

Supporters, who favored Baez over two other finalists, pointed to his knowledge of the agency and said he could quickly step into the job. Baez also served a stint as PSC chairman.



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