Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

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Kelli Kennedy

Kelli Kennedy has 28 articles published.

Mom of girl found dead accused of abusing 5 kids for years

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The mother of a girl found dead in a freezer was accused of beating her five children for years in a home that at times was filled with rats and roaches, according to documents released Tuesday. The documents, released by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, show child welfare investigators visited the home of Keishanna Thomas 10 times amid allegations that she beat one of her children with an electric cord leaving welts, burned another child with bleach so badly her…

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Officials lean toward shutting down controversial bear hunt

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Florida wildlife officials say they are considering shutting down the statewide bear hunt at the end of the second day after a higher than excepted number of bears had been killed. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said 293 bears had been killed by midday Sunday. Officials capped the limit at 320, but hunters have 12 hours to have their bear weighed so numbers are still coming in. Officials shut down the central and east Panhandle regions after the…

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Florida Healthy Kids: Federal health law led to price hikes

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Florida Healthy Kids Corp. is blaming President Obama’s healthcare law after notifying parents that health insurance premiums will increase for thousands of kids starting next month, jumping from $140 to as high as $284. Healthy Kids, which offers insurance options where parents can pay full-price or get subsidized coverage depending on eligibility, said the increases will affect the families of nearly 34,749 children in the full-pay program. That’s about 19 percent of the organization’s 178,873 enrollees. “Despite the federal government’s…

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Florida gives Medicaid insurers 7.7 percent rate increase

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Florida health officials said Wednesday they would give insurers a 7.7 percent rate increase in the fledgling Medicaid managed care program, in what has been a contentious battle between Gov. Rick Scott, the insurers and hospitals. The Republican governor lobbied hard to get federal approval for the statewide managed care program, which launched last year. He promised it would save money and improve health care for more than 3 million low-income and disabled Floridians. But now that the program seems…

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Florida abortions dip, but not as high as other states

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The number of abortions performed in Florida dropped by 10 percent between 2010 and 2014, but the decrease is less than in other Republican-led states that have more aggressive restrictions on the procedure. Roughly 72,100 abortions were performed in Florida in 2014, a 9.7 percent dip from about 79,900 in 2010, according to state health records. The number of abortion clinics has remained steady at about 70 during the time period. Florida lawmakers in April passed a new measure, but…

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Feds says they’re not suspending talks with Florida

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Federal health officials said Thursday that they are still negotiating with the state over the potential loss of more than $1 billion for Florida hospitals, despite assertions that talks were being halted. Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have “not stopped conversations with the state of Florida,” spokesman Aaron Albright said. “CMS remains in contact with state officials and continues to share information. Senior officials from CMS will continue conversations with state officials.” Albright’s response came a…

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Cuban cigar boom? Not yet, stores and customers say

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The coveted Cuban cigar is set to make its first legal appearance in the U.S. in years, with relaxed guidelines allowing American travelers to return with a few of the once-forbidden items in their suitcases. But the cigars won’t roll into stores just yet, and owners say they aren’t worried about any dip in business. “I don’t think they’ll be able to afford it. It’s not for the average customer,” said Erik Otero, who left Cuba when he was 3…

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