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Secretary's Chair Still Empty at Department of Health

May 16, 2019 - 7:00am

Florida is grappling with an outbreak of hepatitis A but does not have a top health officer at the agency charged with ensuring the public’s health.

More than four months after Gov. Ron DeSantis took office, the Florida Department of Health does not have a secretary. DeSantis’ nominee --- Scott Rivkees --- continues to serve as chairman of the University of Florida College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and as physician in chief of UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, according to UF Health spokeswoman Melanie Ross.

Drug Importation Fight Moves to Washington

May 8, 2019 - 9:00am

The battle over whether to allow state programs and Floridians to have access to prescription drugs imported from Canada has already been waged in the Legislature, but it is now shifting from the halls of Tallahassee to Washington, D.C.

Major Health Bills Headed to DeSantis

April 30, 2019 - 9:30am
Jose Oliva

After more than two decades of debate about the issue, the Florida Legislature on Monday approved eliminating the “certificate of need” regulatory program for hospitals and passed a high-profile measure aimed at importing prescription drugs from Canada.

A priority for House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, the House voted 81-34 to pass a bill (HB 21) to eliminate the certificate-of-need program. The vote came hours after the Senate passed the bill in a 23-17 vote, as Oliva took major steps toward his priority of revamping the health-care system.

Certificates of Need about to Become History

April 27, 2019 - 7:30am
Gayle Harrell

A session-long drama over a top priority of House Speaker Jose Oliva is coming to an end after the Senate on Friday prepared to pass a far-reaching bill that would eliminate a controversial hospital regulatory program.

With little discussion, the Senate took up a House certificate-of-need bill (HB 21) and modified it to include what Senate sponsor Gayle Harrell said was an agreement between the chambers.

Hurricane Season Blowing in Fast, but Generators Still Lacking

April 18, 2019 - 9:00am
After Irma: The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills

Just weeks before another hurricane season, large numbers of Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the storm-battered state continue to struggle to meet requirements that they have backup power generator to keep facilities cool.

State records show that 89 long-term care facilities have told Florida officials in the last month that they won’t have generators by June 1 --- which is when the six-month hurricane season kicks off. Some forecasters have predicted it could be a normal hurricane season resulting in as many as two to four major hurricanes.

Senate Won't Act this Year on Surgeon General

April 4, 2019 - 9:00am
Scott Rivkees

Citing a past sexual harassment investigation at the University of Florida, Senate President Bill Galvano said Wednesday the Senate will not vote during this year’s legislative session on confirming the state’s new surgeon general.

The move could put physician Scott Rivkees, named surgeon general Monday by Gov. Ron DeSantis, in limbo for months.

New Surgeon General Rivkees' Tainted Past Likely to Surface during Senate Confirmation Hearing

April 2, 2019 - 7:30pm
Scott Rivkees

A doctor tapped by Gov. Ron DeSantis to become the state’s surgeon general has been embroiled in legal squabbles and investigations while working at the University of Florida.

Scott Rivkees has been the subject of a university sexual harassment investigation, was found by a university auditor to have not properly filed financial-disclosure information and has sued a one-time colleague for libel and slander.

DeSantis’ communications director, Helen Ferre, said Tuesday that Rivkees is an “outstanding candidate for state surgeon general.”

Drug Imports Could Extend to State Workers

March 29, 2019 - 7:45am
Bill sponsor, left, Rep. Tom Leek

State employees have been thrown into the drug importation mix.

Amid a push by Gov. Ron DeSantis to allow Canadian prescription-drug imports, the House Appropriations Committee this week approved a bill that would require the Florida Department of Management Services to offer an international prescription-drug program as a benefit to state employees.

The proposal is included in a bill (HB 5009) that would conform state law to the House’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019-2020. The Senate has not included the drug-importation option in its budget bills.

Workers' Comp Changes Might Get Scuttled

March 28, 2019 - 9:30am
Cord Byrd

A push by Florida’s business community to tackle the state’s workers’ compensation insurance laws could be poised to fail again this year.

As legislators near the midway point of the 60-day session, the possibility is fading that groups representing major corporations, retailers and small businesses can win changes to the complicated system designed to provide health benefits to injured workers.

A House panel this week unanimously approved a proposal (HB 1399) that could result in a 5 percent reduction in the workers’ compensation insurance rates paid by employers.

DeSantis Drug Importation Plan Wins House Support

March 13, 2019 - 9:00am
Tom Leek

Gov. Ron DeSantis was criticized last year for not having a health care platform while he campaigned for the state’s top job.

But DeSantis’ recent announcement that he wants the state to begin importing drugs from Canada is getting praise from Florida lawmakers.

Members of the House Health Quality Subcommittee on Tuesday voted 15-2 to approve a bill (HB 19) that would help carry out DeSantis’ plan.

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