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Two Janet Cruz sponsored bills headed to Gov. Scott’s desk

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Two bills sponsored by Tampa House Democratic Minority Leader Janet Cruz are headed towards Governor Rick Scott’s desk.

The House on Wednesday unanimously passed SB 800, the Senate companion to Cruz’ bill that will prohibit health insurers from denying patients the ability to receive a partial refill of a prescription if they choose to enroll in a medication synchronization program through their pharmacy. According to the sponsor, this will allow more patients to synchronize their prescription plans and lead to better health outcomes.

The origins of the bill come from the fact that often patients with chronic conditions who may have been prescribed medications from different specialized physicians, face numerous refill dates and multiple trips to the pharmacy each in order to maintain their prescribed treatment plan. This lack of alignment, or synchronization, in prescription fill dates has been identified as a major contributor to medication nonadherence, which results in poor health outcomes for patients and an estimated annual impact of $300 billion a year in avoidable costs to the U.S. health care system.

“Especially for our seniors, multiple trips to the pharmacy each month can be a burden that prevents them from receiving the care they need,” said Cruz. “By passing this bill, we are allowing thousands of patients throughout Florida the ability to maximize their health outcomes and live longer, healthier lives. I am proud that we were able to work in a bipartisan manner to improve the overall health of our state.”

The other Cruz sponsored bill (HB 1189) that also was unanimously passed in the House was legislation which requires the Supervisor of Elections to notify voters that their signature was rejected and give them a chance to fix it and have their votes counted.

Cruz sponsored the bill after U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled last fall that county election offices should notify voters if their signature on a vote-by-mail ballot and their voter registration forms don’t match.  Walker called it a “bizarre law.” Currently, the state of Florida does not count votes from people who have signed their ballots with a signature that differs from what is on file with the Supervisor of Elections office. The Supervisor of Elections isn’t required to tell them their vote has been invalidated and give them a chance to remedy the situation.

“The right to vote is one of the fundamental pillars of our democracy,” said Cruz. “Passing this bill gives Floridians the chance to fix problems with their signature and ensures their voice is heard at the ballot box. I’m pleased that all of my colleagues in the House, as well as the Senate, joined me to pass this much-needed legislation. I look forward to Governor Scott signing this critical bill into law to guarantee that all votes in Florida are counted.”\

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.

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