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Senate committee rejects bill scaling back Florida’s certificate of need program

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A Senate committee rejected a proposal Wednesday to scale back the state’s certificate of need (CON) program for licensing hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. LobbyTools reports that SB 1144, filed by Niceville Republican state Sen. Don Gaetz, sought to give exemptions from the CON requirement to facilities that provide “charity care in an amount equal to or greater than the applicable district average among licensed providers of similar services.” Before new beds can be built, the licensing…

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Senate panel narrowly confirms Rick Scott’s Surgeon General

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The Senate Health Policy Committee on Tuesday gave the nod to state Surgeon General John Armstrong. Members granted him confirmation to extend his tenure as head of the state’s health care apparatus, but just barely by a 6-4 vote Armstrong has been under heightened scrutiny in Tallahassee because of recent public failures in the state’s health care infrastructure, including faulty pediatric cardiac standards and a growing rate of HIV/AIDS, particularly in South Florida. For his part, Armstrong cited progress on such…

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Senate budget: Don Gaetz questioned over mentoring funding

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As the Florida Senate began considering its proposed $80.9 billion budget, state Sen. Don Gaetz on Wednesday defended his recommendation for a $30 million competitive grants program for after-school mentoring instead of direct funding. Gaetz, who chairs the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee, said he wanted to save nonprofits on “expensive lobbying and the anguish of the Legislative Session.” “We shouldn’t have to put those people through that,” the Niceville Republican said, referring to being left out of the budget. His subcommittee “felt that (by) taking it…

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Senate committee passes 2 key bills expanding health care access

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Bills that would iron out rules for direct primary care contracts and encourage healthcare companies to give free health care to low-income Floridians passed the Senate Committee on Health Policy Monday. SB 1144, sponsored by Niceville Republican Sen. Don Gaetz, would allow new medical facilities to bypass a lengthy review process known as “certificate of need” if they commit to giving free health care to low-income patients. “This regulatory framework promotes access to care, while protecting safety net providers from…

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Today on Context Florida: Bernie Sanders, abortion clinics, don’t get sick and a flood of online advertising

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Today on Context Florida: A vote for Bernie Sanders is a vote for idealism, courage, candor, says Martin Dyckman. At this stage, a vote for Sanders is to send a message that universal health care is what the public wants and deserves. It’s a vote for what most voters say they want and respect. It sends a message to the establishment about what’s best in America as contrasted with the hatred that is corrupting and disgracing the other party. Catherine Durkin…

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Senate budget eliminates direct funding for youth mentoring

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State Sen. Joe Negron, a former budget panel chief, told his colleagues last month in an acceptance speech for his upcoming Senate presidency that the state must do more for its troubled children and teens. “We should not and we will not tolerate serious wrongdoing by young people but, at the same time, let’s not criminalize adolescence,” he said, according to the Senate Journal’s version. Most experts agree that after-school mentoring programs, such as those offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters, are effective at…

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Bob Buckhorn slams Legislature for pushing Open Carry legislation

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Wading into the current debate in Tallahassee, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is slamming state lawmakers who are advocating that Florida allow nearly 1.5 million Floridians with concealed carry permits to openly carry their firearms, rather than having to keep them hidden. “This bill is totally unnecessary,” Buckhorn declared at a news conference held at Tampa Police headquarters, where he was joined by Police Chief Eric Ward, Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober and the Florida League of Women Voters Patricia…

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