Mitch Perry - SaintPetersBlog

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

Kathy Castor on Nancy Pelosi: No time to discuss change of leadership

In the wake of Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff‘s four-point lost to Republican Karen Handel in last week’s special election, there has been much hand-wringing among Democrats desperate to show that they’re building momentum going into the 2018 midterms.

Ossoff’s loss was the fourth special election to go to the Republicans in the first six months of the Trump presidency.

“Our brand is worse than Trump,” Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan lamented the day after Ossoff’s loss, while New York Representative Kathleen Rice of New York told CNN the entire Democratic leadership team should go.

First and foremost, Rice and Ryan are referring to Nancy Pelosi, who has been at the head of the Democratic House leadership since 2003.

Pelosi has fought back tenaciously, saying she isn’t going anywhere, and she has a majority of supporters in her caucus, such as Tampa U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, who continues to stand by her despite the growing criticism of her tenure.

“This is the exact wrong time to be having this discussion because everyone needs to be focused on defeating this health care bill in the Senate this week,” Castor told FloridaPolitics when asked Monday morning in Tampa where she stood on the issue.

The calls among some Democrats to oust Pelosi have been ongoing for years as the Democrats have continued to lose seats in the House of Representatives. Those grumblings were loud after last fall, and reached a fever pitch way back in 2010 after the Republicans took back the House and the speakership from Pelosi.

At that time, Castor called the discussion “a distraction,”

While calling Pelosi “a strong leader,” Castor said Monday that “over the next few years, you’re going to see a change in the House leadership.”

One would think so. Pelosi is 77. Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer from Maryland is 78, while assistant Democratic leader James Clyburn turns 77 next month.

While some pundits and Democrats said that last week’s election was one that Democrats needed to show that they will have a big year against vulnerable GOP incumbents in Congress, others have noted that it was a district that has always been Republican.

“This is Newt Gingrich’s (former) district; (now-Health Secretary) Tom Price’s district. A first-time candidate. That was going to be a toughie,” said Castor, who made a campaign appearance for Ossoff.

In fact, Price defeated his Democratic challenger last November by 23 percentage points, and Georgia Six was Gingrich’s home district for more than 20 years. But it was also a district that is changing, and is now the 6th best educated congressional district in the country.

Trump narrowly won it by just 1.5 points over Hillary Clinton last fall, however.

“I thought it was a warning shot to the 70 other districts out there are more Democratic, or more independent than that one, you just watch,” said an ever-confident Castor about the Democrats chances of winning back House seats in 2018.

I’m not distraught over that at,” she said. “I’m more hopeful than anything.”

Kathy Castor says Trump administration is using alternative facts to explain Medicaid cuts in Senate health care bill

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is disputing the line being parroted by Trump administration officials that the GOP Senate health care bill won’t cut Medicaid costs by hundreds of billions of dollars.

“That’s untrue, because they propose to cut about $850 billion out of Medicaid over the next decade, and you simply cannot cut that far without damaging the health of our neighbors,” Castor told reporters Monday at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge located on the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida.

“That’s a fallacy,” Castor added. “It would have a devastating impact on our neighbors.”

On Sunday, two officials with the Trump administration denied the bill will severely cut Medicaid.

“These are not cuts to Medicaid,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told ABC News’ “This Week.”

“It slows the rate for the future, and it allows governors more flexibility with Medicaid dollars, because they’re closest to the people in need,” she told host George Stephanopolous.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Health Secretary Tom Price echoed Conway’s remark, saying that the Medicaid cut “all depends on what you’re comparing it to,” claiming it will be affected by how medical care costs change from year to year.

In fact, the legislation would roll back the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, starting in four years. It would also make deeper cuts to Medicaid by placing “per capita caps” on the program such that states will receive only a set amount of money for each recipient, no matter how much their care actually costs.

Unlike the House health care bill, the Senate bill appears to preserve coverage for pre-existing conditions by barring states from having the option to apply for a waiver. However, the Senate bill would allow states to apply for waivers so insurance companies could deny coverage for a list of Essential Health Benefits, including outpatient, mental health, maternity, and emergency room care, among others. Coverage of these benefits is guaranteed by the ACA. The House and Senate versions of the bills would change that.

“In states that choose these waivers, insurers could decide not to cover expensive cancer therapies,” said Heddie Sumpter with the American Cancer Society Action Network, one of several health care organization coming out in opposition to the Senate bill.

The opposition to the GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act is also providing great concern to some Latino organizations.

“Under the ACA, millions of Hispanic families across the country, and tens of thousands in Tampa have finally attained quality health care coverage that they would otherwise not be able to afford,” said Sylvia Alvarez with the National Council of La Raza, who said the Senate bill would provide just as much pain to Latinos as the earlier passed version in the House of Representatives.

Citing a study conducted by the national NCLR branch, Alvarez said between 2013 and 2015, the overall uninsured rate for non-elderly Hispanics in Florida declined from 29 percent to 19 percent. Among Latino children, she said the rate dropped from 14.4 percent to 8.5 percent during the same two-year period.

Castor said she can’t figure out why congressional Republicans — first in the House and now in the Senate, are going about eviscerating the Affordable Care Act in a way that won’t bring relief to many of their own constituents.

“I heard no one on the stump out there saying ‘we’re going to target kids, we’re going to target seniors and nursing homes and the disabled community for cuts, and that’s their campaign platform,” said the Tampa Democrat. “Instead they’re using this repeal and replace for the Affordable Care Act as a guise to go change the Medicaid program like never before.”

Castor said it was time for Republicans and Democrats to come together in Washington to fight against higher health care costs. “Nothing in the GOP Senate bill addresses the issue of higher costs,” she said, adding as she is

“Nothing in the GOP Senate bill addresses the issue of higher costs,” she said, adding, as she is wont to do, that Congress should work on reducing the price of prescription drugs.

Kelso Tanner reacts to ‘outrageous’ comments made by Ione Townsend regarding Confederate monument vote

Days after four of the five Republican members of the Hillsborough County Commission voted to keep a Confederate monument in front of the county courthouse, the controversy isn’t dissipating.

Last Friday afternoon, Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Ione Townsend issued a blistering statement against the Republican commissioners for their vote, calling it “a continuation of white supremacy and white privilege policies.”

Those remarks are now being rebuked by Kelso Tanner, a Hillsborough GOP political consultant and school board candidate, who calls her remarks “incredibly misleading, outrageous, and divisive.”

“The truth is the Ione Townsends of the world don’t care about the elimination of public images or groups that once stood for slavery, oppression, and Jim Crow,” Tanner said in a statement. “If they did, they would not be a member of the very party that encompassed all those things when it mattered most. Clearly, they have forgiven the Democratic party for committing the atrocities that they now claim to care so much about. Don’t be fooled by this latest round of crocodile tears over confederate statues. The real reason for this feigned outrage is increasing turnout in next year’s election. “

The monument, called “Memoria In Aeterna,” depicts two Civil War soldiers next to an obelisk and was built by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, where it has stood in front of the county courthouse since 1911.

Before last week’s vote, County Commissioner Pat Kemp read aloud a portion of State Attorney Herbert S. Phillips’ keynote speech when the monument was dedicated, in which Phillips said that, “The South stands ready to welcome all good citizens who seek to make their homes within her borders. But the South detests and despises all, it matters not from whence they came, who, in any manner, encourages social equality with an ignorant and inferior race.”

Tanner’s argument that the Democrats were the party of white southerners during the Civil War era who supported slavery is something that other Hillsborough Republicans are in response to the criticism.

“They need to go back and take a look at themselves, take a look at their failed policy, take a look at their failed politicians who were the ones who actually uttered the racist comments to begin with, and reconsider these comments,” Victor Crist said on Friday. Crist was one of the four Republicans who voted to maintain the monument.

In voting to keep the monument in place, the BOCC also voted to support a proposal offered by Crist to have a 75 foot long wall built behind the monument that will showcase the diversity of America, to be called “United We Stand.”

Tanner also takes exception to Townsend’s referral to white privilege, calling it a “slap in the face to millions of hard working Americans in this country.”

“No one is handed success on a silver platter. America is the land of equal opportunity for everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever group Ione chooses to marginalize tomorrow,” he says, adding that “(w)e can’t control how we start the circle of life but we can certainly control how we live and end it regardless of who we are or what our background is. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.”

Townsend was not immediately available for comment.

The current composition of the Hillsborough County Commission is made up of 5 Republicans and 2 Democrats. All four who voted to keep the monument are on the ballot in 2018, while the fifth Republican, Al Higginbotham, is not running next year. He joined Democrats Kemp and Les Miller  in supporting the idea of moving the monument.

Tanner recently announced his candidacy for the District 6 seat on the Hillsborough County School board next year, a seat currently held by April Griffin. Three other candidates have also entered that race: Jessica Vaughn, William Person and Randy Toler.

Griffin has said she won’t decide on whether or not she’ll run for reelection until next January.

Philip Levine says his authenticity is a quality voters want from their leaders

When setting out a game plan to become elected governor of the third largest state in the nation, it’s probably not in the playbook for a political candidate to get into a shouting match with a news reporter in front of other members of the press.

But that’s Philip Levine.

Last month, the Miami Beach Mayor got into a spat with a bar owner at a press conference where he was announcing a proposal to limit alcohol sales and reduce outdoor noise on Ocean Drive.

“I think that what people want and what they’re missing in a lot of their elected leaders is a really unique word called authenticity, saying how you feel, being a little less filtered,” Levine told POLITICO Florida reporter Marc Caputo in a discussion Friday morning at the U.S. Conference of Mayors kicked off at the Fontainebleau Hotel.

“For me, I always say I’m authentic,” Levine said regarding his dispute with bar owner Daniel Wallace. “I am which I am, and as a business guy and an entrepreneur, I speak his language pretty loud and clear.”

Levine’s proposal to limit alcohol sales at outdoor venues along Ocean Drive will go before the voters in November.

The 55-year-old mayor is playing host this weekend to more than 250 mayors from across the country who have descended upon Miami Beach for the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting, the first time the city has hosted the event since 1962.

Levine is currently in the “testing the waters” phase of a potential gubernatorial candidacy. Although a Democrat who campaigned extensively for Hillary Clinton last year for president, Levine surprised much of the Florida political establishment last month when he announced at a Tampa Tiger Bay meeting that he was considering a run as an independent.

“I tell everyone, I’m a Democrat, but I’m a radical centrist, I’m an American before I’m anything, and that’s the most important thing,” Levine told Caputo when asked about his gubernatorial aspirations. “I’m not left or right, I’m forward. If that’s a Democratic hat, great? If not, we’ll see, and I haven’t made any decisions.”

Levine’s visible expressions of anger haven’t been limited to heckling bar owners. The mayor has also reacted brusquely with Florida political reporters on Twitter.

“You learn in this game of politics that people love to grandstand, they like to go after you for different things,” he said. “I came in with a thinner skin. My skin now is kind of like alligators.”

Although not calling him out by name, Levine took a shot at Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran on a couple of occasions in the interview.

Referring to his campaign to strip funding for “corporate welfare” public agencies like Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, Levine said he sided with Scott on the months long dispute between the state’s two top elected Republicans in the state.

“I can’t vouch whether it’s well run, well funded, it should be changed, but I know the concept is good,” he said of Enterprise Florida, which ultimately received $85 million in state funding in the FY 2018 budget. “It’s unfortunate that the governor was caught in a situation where folks were playing politics with him,” he said, adding that he felt the same about Visit Florida.

“One thing that people are sick of is people playing politics with good things, and the only one who suffers in the people.”

Levine has also been involved in a high profile spat with Airbnb in Miami Beach. While he was dueling with executives of the short term rental startup, the Florida Legislature was working on a proposal that would have limited the ability of local governments to regulate short-term vacation rentals.

Although that proposal fizzled, Levine still resents the idea that Tallahassee knows best.

“What works in Miami may not work in Pennsylvania, and vice versa, so I think it’s a local issue,” he told Caputo, “but unfortunately, we have a state that seems to be thinking that the old Soviet style of central planning from Moscow is the way to go and it’s not the way to go, it’s better to have local control.”

 

Rick Kriseman, Rick Baker and five longshots qualify for ballot in St. Pete’s mayoral contest

The deadline to qualifying to run in this year’s election for mayor of St. Petersburg ended at 5 p.m. on Friday, and the field of candidates is now set at seven.

The primary election is August 29.

Leading the field are the two Rick’s – incumbent Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker.

Also making it on the ballot are Ernisa Barnwell, Anthony Cates III, Theresa “Momma Tee” Lassiter, Jesse Nevel, the national chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, and perennial candidate Paul Congemi.

There are 67 days before the election.

The first mayoral debate will take place next Tuesday, June 27, at the Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church at 6:00 p.m.

An official associated with the debate says that only those candidates polling at 10 percent or above are invited, meaning it will just be Kriseman and Baker participating.

The Tampa Bay Times says they are limiting its sponsored debate with Bay News 9 on July 25 to include just Kriseman and Baker as well. They are basing the criteria not on polling information, but on fundraising prowess. Both Kriseman and Baker have raised over half a million dollars to date in the race.

That prompted Nevel to hold a protest outside the Times’ offices on Thursday, where he accused the daily of attempting to silence his message.

 

Hillsborough Democrats blast Confederate monument vote as ‘white supremacy, white privilege’

Two days after Hillsborough County Commissioners made national news by voting to keep a Confederate monument in front of its County Courthouse Annex, the Hillsborough Democratic Party says the commissioners who did so “should be ashamed of themselves.”

Four commissioners, all Republicans, voted to maintain a statue built in 1911 of a Confederate soldier in front of the courthouse. They also approved Crist’s proposal to add a mural behind the monument, showcasing what Crist called “love and diversity” of the community.

“The votes cast by Sandy Murman, Stacy White, Victor Crist, and Ken Hagan are an abomination,” says Ione Townsend, chair of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee in a statement. “We ask these commissioners to dig deep and find the moral courage to call for a reconsideration of this issue and put Hillsborough County on the right side of history.”

The two lone Democrats on the board — Les Miller and Pat Kemp — as well as Republican Al Higginbotham — voted to remove the monument.

Townsend said the vote to not remove the statue “was a continuation of white supremacy and white privilege policies,” and says “WE MUST stand up against these racist and divisive policies. We can and will express our beliefs at the ballot box in November of 2018.”

That’s easier said than done on a county commission that has been dominated by Republicans for two decades.

White will be running for re-election to his District 4 seat in conservative eastern Hillsborough County, while Murman and Crist will be running for new countywide seats after serving eight years on the board.

Hagan is also running for a new four-year term in District 2, which he previously served on from 2002-2010. He has spent the past six and a half years representing District 5, but intends to return to the north Hillsborough seat next year. He has already collected more than $200,000 in campaign contributions.

Then again, the changing demographics of the district in terms of a larger Latino population saw the county go further left in the 2016 election. Although Hillsborough has maintained a reputation for being one of the ultimate swing districts in the country during the presidential votes, the county went for Hillary Clinton by more than six percentage points last year, while the entire state went for Donald Trump.

Kemp easily won in the only countywide election, and Democrat Andrew Warren pulled off a major upset by defeating 16-year-GOP incumbent Mark Ober in the race for State Attorney.

On Thursday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn issued a statement clarifying that it was Hillsborough County, and not Tampa, that made the controversial vote.

The statement was akin to what happened in 2005, when then-Mayor Pam Iorio announced that “gays and lesbians are part of our diversity and deserve our respect,” days after the Board voted to ban “Gay Pride” events.

As of late Friday, two of the four GOP commissioners responded to Townsend’s statement.

“I really have no response to this,” responded White. “My remarks from the meeting this past Wednesday really speak for themselves and basically rebut everything in the DEC’s statement.”

Victor Crist said he was “shocked” by what he called “hypocritical” remarks, since he said it was the Democratic Party who supported the monument from the beginning.

“Over the last 65 years that it’s been in its current location, most of those years have been under the Democratic County Commission, and every year that money had to have been appropriated to maintain it, the Democrats voted to do so,” he said. ” So all of a sudden now after 135 years of Democratic support, they’re going to turn around and criticize other people? You’ve gotta be kidding me.”

This is Townsend’s full statement:

Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners who voted on June 21 to leave the Confederate monument up in front of the courthouse should be ashamed of themselves. The votes cast by Sandy Murman, Stacy White, Victor Crist, and Ken Hagan are an abomination. We ask these commissioners to dig deep and find the moral courage to call for a reconsideration of this issue and put Hillsborough County on the right side of history. We also call all Democrats and residents of Hillsborough County who support the constitutional rights of all citizens and find the vote on June 21 to be unacceptable to CONTACT THESE COMMISSIONERS AND ASK THEM TO RECONSIDER THEIR POSITIONS AND VOTE “YES” on the removal of the Confederate statute.

Let us be clear!! The Civil War was fought over the oppression of the civil and human rights of African Americans. It was NOT a war of states’ rights or northern aggression as it is often referred to in the South even in 2017. The South fought this war to protect the interests of rich white Southerners who depended on slavery to maintain their lifestyle and wealth. After the Civil War the United States of America passed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments abolishing slavery, giving citizenship to former slaves, guaranteeing due process and equal protection under the law, and voting rights for African American men (women of all races did not get the right to vote until the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920).

Jim Crow laws, designed to perpetuate segregation, were passed by southern states and local governments unwilling to abide by these new constitutional amendments in the later part of the 1800s. These laws by were an attempt to circumvent the new rights granted to all Americans. After yet another 100 years of continued suppression of rights guaranteed by the Constitution, Martin Luther King and many civil rights activists, some of whom lost their lives in this cause, worked tirelessly to make this oppression part of our public discourse.

This culminated in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Resistance to equality continues today in the form of new Jim Crow laws being passed by Republican controlled states. New voting rights laws have been passed under the guise of unsubstantiated voter fraud resulting in oppression of voting rights especially in communities of color. Mandatory sentencing even for minor offenses and discriminatory criminal justice practices has a disproportionate effect on people of color, resulting in the filling of for-profit prisons. Is this not another form of discrimination, oppression, and slavery? These actions and sentiments have emboldened militarized police forces to shoot unarmed African American men, women and children.

The vote on June 21, 2017, at the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners to not remove a Confederate Statue from a public space was a continuation of white supremacy and white privilege policies. Symbols of the Confederacy are divisive, painful, racist, and are meant to intimidate a portion of our citizens who, because of white supremacy, have never realized complete freedom in the Land of the Free. A Confederate statue in front of a courthouse is particularly offensive. The vote was shameful and was the result of people working to perpetuate this abomination of racist thought and action on our body politic. White Supremacy was on full display at the County Commission meeting. WE MUST stand up against these racist and divisive policies. We can and will express our beliefs at the ballot box in November of 2018.

Activist Sky White ends Hillsborough Commission run, citing lack of minority ‘voter influence’

Saying she doesn’t think there is a sufficient “voter influence” for minority candidates currently, Sky White, a 33-year-old community activist who had filed to run for the Hillsborough County Commission District 7 seat last month, has decided to drop out of the contest.

“Definitely don’t count me out, you’ll be hearing from me again,” White told FloridaPolitics.com Wednesday night. “I just want to make sure that I’m focused on the right thing right now.”

A licensed personal nurse, White is also editor-in-chief of REVIVED magazine, which launched last December, touted as “Tampa’s most-influential black-owned magazine.”

White is also the founder and program director of REBORN Tampa, a nonprofit serving underprivileged youth. REBORN facilitates a free summer reading program for underperforming youth, as well as civil rights courses and an annual back-to-school community rally.

Instead of running for office, White says she wants to focus on becoming more of a voice for the minority community in Hillsborough County, saying, “We don’t have solid representation in our community and I want to work towards doing more about that for this upcoming election.”

She says she’s concerned about the community understanding how important local elections are.

“We know Les Miller, we have a lot of minority coalitions in Tampa, but in my opinion, they don’t have a lot of voter influence,” she said. “I want to focus on creating a strong voter influence from what we have not been able to do.”

White spoke just hours after the Hillsborough County Commission voted 4-3 to maintain a Confederate monument that stands outside of the annex at the Hillsborough County Courthouse. She said that it was surprising that it happened in Tampa.

“Hillsborough County has been very diverse, and I have family members visit me from up north, and when they arrive down I-75 and see that Confederate Flag, it shocks them because you don’t think of Tampa being like that — keeping the monument and then you see that flag,” she says. “It just doesn’t resonate with the community.”

White is referring to what its supporters have boasted is the world’s largest Confederate flag, erected in 2009 at the intersection of I-75 and I-4 which measures 30 feet high and 60 feet long and hangs from a 139-foot pole.

“We can’t rely on just a handful of leaders, they’re getting older now,” says White. “It’s time for millennials to really get a stronghold on what’s going on and to move forward in their stead.”

Now officially on the ballot, Corey Givens Jr. lays out platform

St. Petersburg City Council District 6 candidate Corey Givens, Jr., officially qualified for the ballot Thursday and said he was pleased to do at the same time that the city was raising the Pride flag at City Hall.

“The sun is shining bright in St. Petersburg today. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate this milestone occasion, than by celebrating with our allies in the LGBTQ community.” Givens said in a statement. “I’m uplifted by the intensity of the spirit for change and I’m inspired by this renewed yearning for new leadership in local government. Our situations may be vastly different, but our desire for progress is very much the same.”

The 25-year-old Lakewood Terrace Neighborhood Association also unveiled his platform on his website on Thursday. He says it’s an assortment of ideas and goals that he’s come up with based on meeting with voters over the past six months. They include:

— A call for a $15-per-hour minimum wage for city employees.

— Provide business tax incentives to credit unions to establish branches in socioeconomically challenged communities.

— Increase funding for FREE trolley service to include more routes within neighborhoods that lack access to public transportation, food, and livable wage paying jobs.

— Develop a citywide Early Childhood Development Initiative that aims to ensure children ages zero through five are healthy, well-cared for and ready to succeed in school.

— And partner with local schools, artist, and musicians to integrate performing arts into city-operated after school care programs.

“People are tired of politicians and the media deflecting from the issues. They’re tired of the political division,” Givens Jr. says. “We’re no longer looking back at the past; we’re looking forward to fixing the real issues that real people face daily. I’m talking about quality of life issues such as safe and sustainable living, better regional transportation, educational equity, and improved access to local government. ”

It hasn’t been the best month for the highly ambitious USFSP graduate.

He was the subject of an unflattering report regarding a campaign contribution that he was accused of pocketing into his own coffers. He did report $825 in campaign contributions for the month of May.

Two of the other eight candidates in the race, Justin Bean and Jim Jackson, also qualified for the race on Thursday.

Kathy Castor calls Senate health care proposal ‘even worse’ than House bill

Upon the first review of what Republican Senators euphemistically call the “Better Care Reconciliation Act,” Kathy Castor says it’s “worse” than the much-derided “American Health Care Act” passed earlier this year by the GOP House.

What most upsets the Democratic congresswoman from Tampa is that the bill “radically” restructures Medicaid.

“This is a dramatic overhaul of Medicaid that will cause families to lose care and present a very difficult budget to Florida,” she said in a conference call Thursday afternoon.

Medicaid is a federal/state program partnership that is administered by the states but mostly funded by Washington. In Florida, it’s mostly provided to children, people with disabilities and the elderly living in nursing homes suffering from specific ailments.

Currently, the feds pay on average about 64 percent; states pick up the rest.

The Senate GOP plan would repeal this structure, replacing it with caps on how much money states receive each year. Castor says this is a problem, because Florida already spends less on the program than most other states, despite it being the third largest in population.

Bloomberg News reports that, starting in 2025, the Senate bill would index Medicaid spending to a slower growth rate than the House version, which indexed Medicaid to the faster growth rate of medical inflation plus 1 percentage point, to try to keep pace with the disproportionate growth in health care costs.

Approximately 3.6 million Floridians rely on Medicaid, close to 20 percent of the state’s population.

“The Senate bill includes enormously consequential changes, that will clearly move the country backward on child and parent coverage,” says Joan Alker, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Children and Families and a research professor at Georgetown University.

“The only question on my mind is how quickly and sharply this U-turn would occur,” she added, saying that it would ultimately end the guarantee to the state of federal funding for Medicaid.

Alker says what’s most provocative is that the restructuring of Medicaid has nothing to do with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act: “This is just something that Congress is doing while they’re in the neighborhood.”

The American Hospital Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Association of American Medical Colleges all came out in opposition to the bill Thursday afternoon.

Under the Senate bill, the federal government would continue paying subsidies to health insurance companies through 2019. It would also provide $50 billion to help stabilize insurance markets and hold down premiums from 2018 through 2021 — in other words, until after the next presidential election.

Castor says that the Senate bill, unlike the House counterpart, does preserve pre-existing conditions protections. But she says that provision is “totally undermined” by the fact that states can waive other insurance rules that could weaken the protections for essential health benefits, as well as lift caps on what a patient pays to an insurer. Also, the bill would provide $62 billion in grants to states for similar purposes from 2019 to 2026.

Also, the bill would provide $62 billion in grants to states for similar purposes from 2019 to 2026.

At least four GOP senators are already indicating they cannot support the bill as written, raising the possibility there won’t be an up-or-down vote on the bill within the next week, a self-imposed deadline created by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Justin Bean qualifies for City Council race, continues to lead the field in fundraising

St. Petersburg City Council District 6 hopeful Justin Bean announced Thursday that he has officially qualified to appear on the August 29 ballot

“I am excited to officially qualify for the ballot in our District 6 race,” said Bean, a sales manager at Reusable Transport Packaging, a web-based sales and marketing group based in downtown St. Pete.

“This is just the next step in the important process of sharing my plan to create sustainable economic opportunity for everyone,” Bean said. “I can’t wait to meet even more of my neighbors as I knock on their front doors and to hear their concerns and share this important message.”

Bean raised $4,995 in May, and overall has taken in $18,547, the most of any candidate in the nine-person field.

The two top finishers in the District 6 on August 29 will then go on to run citywide in November.

 

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