AGENCIES SEEK MONEY FOR DRUG IMPORTATION, HEPATITIS A
Despite a possibly tight budget next year, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration submitted a legislative wish list this week that seeks hundreds of millions of additional dollars for health and social-service programs.
Top officials from six health care-related agencies appeared Wednesday before the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and made pitches for spending boosts. DeSantis will roll out his budget recommendations later this year in advance of the Jan. 14 start of the 2020 legislative session..
Some of the wish-list items for next year included $15.2 million to help control outbreaks of diseases such as Hepatitis A and address potential infectious-disease threats; $25 million to hire a contractor to help get the state's Canadian drug-importation program off the ground; and $12.6 million to improve health-care data collection.…
Insurance regulators in Florida and 16 other states have approved a proposed merger between Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans and Centene Corp., the managed-care companies said Thursday. The proposed $17.3 billion merger, announced in March, would combine two of the largest players in Florida’s Medicaid managed-care system. It calls for the St. Louis-based Centene to buy WellCare but is subject to state and federal approvals...
The Florida Board of Medicine has received about 200 email inquiries about the state’s new telehealth law, with about half coming from out-of-state providers, members of a House health-care panel were told this week. But Claudia Kemp, staff director of the Board of Medicine, was hesitant to predict how many out-of-state physicians would register this year and begin caring for Florida patients as allowed under a new telehealth law...…
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott want to allow Canadians to be able to stay longer in the United States. The Florida Republicans announced Thursday they have introduced legislation dubbed the “Canadian Snowbirds Act,” which seeks to allow Canadian citizens over age 50 who own or rent U.S. homes to spend up to eight months a year in the country...…
September 18, 2019
House Rules Chairman Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, was formally chosen Tuesday by his Republican colleagues to become the next House speaker. Sprowls will take the gavel after the November 2020 elections and serve as speaker for two years.
After making remarks during Tuesday’s ceremony, Sprowls, 35, talked with reporters about issues such as the state budget, the need for inspectors general to investigate financial wrongdoing, social media and his support for a plan that could lead to building or expanding three toll roads.
Here are five questions for Chris Sprowls from his discussion with reporters:
Q: You talked about budgets in (your) remarks … it sounds like you’re indicting previous generations of the party for overspending and not setting parameters.
SPROWLS: We can’t ignore our own failing. So, what I was saying is that we haven’t allowed our reserves to keep up with our growth and our budget, and that is something we should make a priority. So, I was specifically pointing out something that we as a caucus can do better.
Q: About your proposal for inspectors general, and what you mean by strengthening, what specifics do you have in mind?
SPROWLS: I think the inspectors general need to have some teeth so that they can go and investigate these organizations. If you all recall, and really it was the reporters that brought it up first in the Career Source example that I used. It was brought to us by the press. It wasn’t something that government initiated. It wasn’t initiated by a state attorney or the Attorney General’s Office. So, my point there was, we need more teeth, so when there is instances like this where they can go in, they can investigate, they can recover misspent money. And if it’s really, really bad, they can go forward with criminal prosecution.
Q: In the beginning of your speech you talked about two different worlds, D.C. and Tallahassee, and people being filled with apocalyptic rage and being obsessed with what they do on Twitter. What are your thoughts about the president and his use of Twitter and the way he engages with people?
SPROWLS: I don’t like sometimes what the president tweets. It isn’t what I would tweet. I actually candidly think it distracts from all the great things that he is doing. What I would say is, it was a message about all of us. All of us are engaged in a social-media world where people react quickly. They react loudly. It’s apocalyptic. And it’s not reality. My point to everyone was we should be grounded firmly, focusing on real problems, not being worried about what the emotional moment is on Twitter.
Q: You mentioned not getting caught up in semantics. Do you think the Republican Party nationally has gotten too caught up in, like, being afraid of the words “climate change?”
SPROWLS: I think both parties have gotten amped up about words. Part of the problem when you talk about things like the environment is that it’s been so hyper-politicized by everyone that we’re not having an actual conversation as to what do we need to do. What is a reasonable step? What’s a practical way to mitigate things like risks of flooding in our coastal communities? So, my point was to stop the national nonsense of the conversations that are so toxic and focus on what are practical solutions.
Q: The bill will be due when you’re speaker on those toll roads that were approved this past year. It’s an idea that mostly emanated from the Senate, but it’s going to come on your watch. Are you four-square in favor of those?
SPROWLS: I voted for it. I supported the plans. And I continue to support the plan.
HEPATITIS A HITTING FLORIDA HARD
Hepatitis A is striking Florida in a more deadly fashion than in other states, and the situation is getting so bad that Florida is offering free socks and bus passes to encourage homeless people to get vaccinated.
Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who doubles as secretary of the state Department of Health, told a Senate health care committee Tuesday that 40 people in Florida have died from the virus, giving the state a 1.3 percent fatality rate, compared to the national average of 1 percent.
Moreover, 78 percent of the hepatitis A cases in Florida have required hospitalization, compared to 60 percent nationally. Given the average cost of hospitalization in Florida is $77,000, Rivkees said the virus has resulted in an estimated $180 million in hospital charges.…