Posts Tagged ‘Rick Scott’

Feds question Florida’s plans for Medicaid privatization

Posted on: March 14th, 2012 by The American Independent 3 Comments

Gov. Rick Scott (Pic via http://www.flgov.com/media-center/photos/)

Months after the state of Florida submitted its plans to privatize most of its Medicaid program, the federal government is still asking the state to explain the feasibility of those plans. (more…)

Fla. bill protecting imprisoned pregnant women heads to governor’s desk

Posted on: March 8th, 2012 by The American Independent 2 Comments

The Florida House passed a bill Wednesday that would set uniform and humane rules for the shackling and restraint of pregnant women who are incarcerated. The bill already passed in the state Senate and is now headed to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. (more…)

Fla. lawmakers seek to limit Medicaid doctor visits

Posted on: March 7th, 2012 by The American Independent 1 Comment

The old Florida capitol (Pic by Diligent Terrier, via Wikimedia Commons)

As Florida lawmakers to balance the budget in the face of a $2 billion shortfall, Medicaid recipients might see their doctor’s visits slashed. Florida’s $70 billion budget, which was released yesterday and is set to be voted on Friday, drastically cuts visits to emergency rooms and primary care doctors for Floridians enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program.

As of August 1, 2012, the budget (.pdf), would  limit “emergency room visits to 6 visits per fiscal year for  a non-pregnant recipient 21 years of age or older [and] general physician visits to two visits per month for non-pregnant adults.”

Karen Woodall, the interim executive director of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, says that the move “doesn’t make sense” because it could lead to increased costs in emergency room visits for Medicaid recipients with more serious illnesses.

“We will be losing more money with these cuts,” she says, “because [recipients] can still go to emergency rooms.”

Woodall also says that the state’s continued cuts to the Medicaid program is akin to “discrimination against poor people,” and would likely not be approved by the federal government.

In an effort to cut the costs of Medicaid to the state, Florida lawmakers have attempted to privatize portions of the program, cut services and charge $10 premiums for every enrollee.

Last month, the federal government struck down the state’s attempt to charge all Medicaid beneficiaries $10 a month for services, as well as a request to charge a $100 copayment for receiving non-emergency medical care in a hospital.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the state could not impose premiums on families whose income is “at or below 150 percent” of the federal poverty level, something the feds say they “verbally” warned the state about. The Centers had the same concern about the $100 copayment. Federal health officials ruled that “cost sharing for individuals at lower income levels cannot exceed five percent of family income.”

Reports showed that the state’s plan to charge $10 premium would have likely forced out about 800,000 people from Florida’s Medicaid program — 660,000 of which would have likely been children.

Gov. Rick Scott has been among the many lawmakers to pin the state’s budgetary problems almost squarely on the state’s contribution to Medicaid. He has said many times that if Florida does not adjust Medicaid spending, “it will bankrupt the state.” Health advocates, public interest groups and policy experts, however, have said such arguments are misleading.

Greg Mellowe, of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, told The Florida Independent last year that “any implication that Medicaid spending is spiraling out of control is disingenuous.” According to Mellowe, the projected increase in the state’s Medicaid spending amounts to a “2.6 percent bump for this year,” which he said “is the second smallest percentage increase in the past dozen years.”

Report: Fla. GOP tried to sneak prison privatization into budget

Posted on: March 6th, 2012 by The American Independent 2 Comments

Pic by Smithers7, via Wikimedia Commons

During budget negotiations Sunday night, GOP leadership tried to unsuccessfully sneak prison privatization into the state’s budget, The Palm Beach Post reports. (more…)

Florida employee drug-testing bill advances through legislature

Posted on: March 5th, 2012 by The American Independent No Comments

A bill that would allow Florida state agencies to randomly drug test employees passed its final committee today. The bill passed today on the House floor and is now a step closer to Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. (more…)

Rubio bill would force EPA to adopt state-drafted water rules

Posted on: February 16th, 2012 by The American Independent No Comments

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (Photo: Facebook)

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., today introduced a bill that would force the EPA to scrap its set of Florida water quality standards and instead accept rules drafted by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The bill is the Senate companion to a measure introduced in the U.S. House in January by Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City.

The numeric nutrient criteria, a set of standards designed to restrict waste in Florida waterways, were initially mandated by the EPA, following a lawsuit bought by environmental groups. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has since drafted its own rules as a lower-cost alternative to the more stringent federal regulations. Environmentalists say the state-drafted rules aren’t strict enough, and prefer that the EPA implement its version.

Though Southerland says his bill would “empower Florida officials, rather than bureaucrats at the EPA” to implement water pollution standards, environmentalists call it a “gift to polluter-lobbyists.”

In a press release, Rubio echoed Southerland, saying that “it’s time the EPA stop bullying us into accepting another Washington-contrived mandate that would devastate job creation. ”

“Florida has one of the most aggressive water quality protection programs in the nation, implemented by the people who know our state best, and it’s time the EPA stop bullying us into accepting another Washington-contrived mandate that would devastate job creation. This legislation simply reaffirms that states and the federal government should be partners in making sure our water is clean, and prevents Washington overreaches from harming our economy,” Rubio said in a press release. “The EPA needs to step back and realize that Florida will not simply stand by as their policies negatively impact Florida’s consumers, agriculture producers, municipalities, small businesses and other job creators.”

Southerland says his bill and Rubio’s would “save up to 14,500 Florida agriculture jobs while building upon the tremendous successes already achieved on the state level to keep our water clean.”

While industry representatives and lawmakers argue that the EPA’s criteria will cost the state both jobs and money, representatives from the agency disagree, arguing that the nutrient criteria will actually “save Florida money in the long run by making implementation faster and easier, thereby preventing future expensive clean-up costs and a decline in Florida’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry that is an engine of job growth in Florida.”

If enacted, the bill would compel the EPA administrator to formally accept the state-drafted rule.

Bills that would pave the way for Florida to implement its own version of the criteria passed both the Florida House and Senate unanimously this month, and were signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott today.

“The future of our state’s environment and economy depend on the health of our water bodies, and the state’s rules will ensure the protection of both,” Scott said in a statement. “The state’s rules are scientifically sound, protect the environment and avoid unnecessary costs for Florida’s households and businesses. Once approved by EPA, they will further enhance the State’s nationally recognized nutrient control programs.”

Rubio’s bill is supported by the Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida League of Cities — all of whom have long been critical of the federally mandated nutrient criteria.

Corrections Corporation of America wants to buy Florida prisons

Posted on: February 15th, 2012 by The American Independent No Comments
The Huffington Post reported on Tuesday that a private prison company had approached 48 states — of which Florida is one — to trade cash in exchange for contracts to run state prisons.

(more…)

Florida governor reiterates support for private prisons

Posted on: February 14th, 2012 by The American Independent 1 Comment

Gov. Rick Scott, who has been mostly silent on the plan to privatize 27 prisons currently moving through the Florida Senate, told reporters he is “hopeful” the state Senate will pass its bill. (more…)