« December 2012 | Main | February 2013 »

229 posts from January 2013

January 29, 2013

Marco Rubio conquers Mt. Rushbo

Yesterday, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh was in a typical lather about the Gang of Eight's new immigration pla, saying repeatedly that it amounts to failed policy.

And he used that most-hated of words to many conservatives: "Amnesty." Limbaugh said it over and over again.

"We've done this before. We've done amnesty before," he said. "This immigration bill that everybody's touting on TV today is essentially the Bush immigration bill that was beat back in 2007."

Limbaugh continued to bash the plan today before Republican Sen. Marco Rubio came on the show.

Conservatives, liberals and reporters were atwitter with what would happen when the Florida senator came on. Turns out, not much. No sparks. No tough question. No mention of the A word.

By the end of the interview, Rubio had Limbaugh eating out of his hand. Just as Rubio did with Mark Levin, Lou Dobbs, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and others. All have bashed "amnesty" and President Obama's plans for it. But all of them loved Rubio's plan -- even though it mirrors what Obama called for last year, right down to the rhetoric.

"What you are doing is admirable and noteworthy," Limbaugh said.

Flip meet flop.

This says something about the intellectual honesty (or studiousness) of talk radio/TV. But it also speaks to Rubio's communication skills.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio conquers Mt. Rushbo" »

Gang of 4? Rubio, Coons Klobuchar, Hatch file high-skill immigration bill

Best theatrics part of this bill? Marco Rubio's Senate speech today when he wondered why PHds, etc. don't get a green card.

"That's crazy," Rubio said, starting to stammer at what he thinks is a no-brainer issue. "Not only..that...that's just..that's just.. That's cray-zee."

The proposal for this legislation will also appear in the more-celebrated Gang of Eight immigration plan proposed yesterday by Rubio et al. So let's call this the Gang of 4. Note: this posted was updated to reflect the fact that I can't add, having missed Coons.

Ok, here's the press release:

Continue reading "Gang of 4? Rubio, Coons Klobuchar, Hatch file high-skill immigration bill" »

Study: Obamacare's Medicaid expansion would save, not cost, FL money

Florida would save money over the next decade — not lose billions as Gov. Rick Scott has argued — by accepting Medicaid expansion under federal healthcare reforms, according to a detailed economic study.

Miami-Dade legislators and healthcare industry leaders, getting together on Monday, heard about the report by Georgetown University — the most positive yet on a highly debated provision of what is often called Obamacare.

Jack Hoadley, a senior researcher with the Georgetown Health Policy Institute, said the study was the first to calculate spin-off savings in other state programs if Florida accepted the expansion, which over the next 10 years could bring $26 billion in federal funds to provide insurance to an estimated 815,000 to 1.3 million Florida residents who are now uninsured.

In Miami-Dade, expansion would cover an additional 150,000 to 225,000, according to the Georgetown projections. That reduction in the uninsured would bring huge relief to the county’s hospitals, which by federal law must treat anyone who comes to the emergency room, regardless of ability to pay.

More here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/29/3206264_study-medicaid-expansion-may-save.html#storylink=addthis#storylink=cpy

Rick Scott/Mitt Romney campaign alum Ward Baker now NRSC political director

Ward Baker, the nuts-and-bolts data meister who furnished outsized help in Rick Scott's gubernatorial campaign, has been named the political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Baker most recently worked on Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

Another FL tie: Baker is married to Citrus County native Jennifer Coxe Baker, who repped Sen. Mel Martinez in 2004 and Scott in 2010. 

Writes The Hill:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee announced its senior staff Tuesday, rounding out an overhaul of leadership for the new cycle as the party aims to win the majority in 2014.

Serving under NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran of Kansas and NRSC Executive Director Rob Collins, who was hired in December, are an array of operatives with both campaign and Capitol Hill experience....

Ward Baker, political director: Baker is a veteran campaign operative with stints at Majority Strategies, the Republican State Leadership Committee and in 2012 as a liaison between the Mitt Romney presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee. He also has experience running state Victory programs and independent expenditure operations.

Nursing home managers accused of $2.75M in Medicaid fraud

UPDATE: Attorneys representing the two nursing home business managers sent over a statement saying that Maxcine Darville and Joanne Carter have been released on bond and are cooperating with law enforcement.

"During the period of the investigation, both Ms. Darville and Ms. Carter voluntarily cooperated with state authorities and will continue to do so," the emailed statement said. "However, they both strongly deny any wrongdoing and intend to fight the case until they are exonerated and their good names are cleared."

ORIGINAL POST: The CEO and second-in-command at a Florida nursing home management company were arrested and charged with misusing Medicaid funds. The arrest of CEO Maxcine Darville and Assistant CEO and Assistant CEO Joanne Carter of the Council on Aging of Florida was announced today, the product of an investigation by the Attorney General Office's Medicaid Fraud Unit and the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.

Darville and Carter are accused of using $2.75 million in Medicaid allocations to give themselves excessive salaries and pay for personal expenses like mortgage payments, cell phone service and household bills. The questionable spending occurred by January 2006 and March 2012, the Attorney General's Office said. Each woman is charged with one first-degree felony count  of organized scheme to defraud.

The Council on Aging of Florida, a for-profit company that operates four facilities, is not affiliated with the Florida Council on Aging, a statewide advocacy group for the elderly.

Here is the full press release:

Continue reading "Nursing home managers accused of $2.75M in Medicaid fraud" »

Anti-Castro bill would ban medical licenses for American doctors trained in Cuba

Two South Florida lawmakers are pushing for a law that would stop American doctors who studied in Cuba from receiving medical licenses in Florida.

Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., and Sen. Rene Garcia, both Hialeah Republicans, filed bills last week, seeking to clamp down on U.S. medical students who go to Cuba for training.

“U.S students who turn a blind eye to basic human and civil rights abuses in Cuba do not possess the moral clarity to serve patients in Florida” said Diaz in a statement. “The Fidel Castro medical scholarship program is purely a propaganda tool. Hopefully this legislation will stop American citizens from participating in Cuba’s medical apartheid system.”

The Cuban government offers a free medical training program that has drawn in thousands of students from around the world, including many from the United States.

If the bill pushed by Diaz and Garcia passes, any American student who goes to Cuba for training will not be able to get a medical license to practice in Florida.

The ban would not apply to those who trained in Cuba prior to coming to the U.S. According to Diaz’s press release it would only apply to “those who willingly go to Cuba to be used as propaganda tools by the Cuban government.”

Last year, Garcia pushed a bill that would prevent local governments from contracting with firms that had Cuban branches. Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill, but also said it could not be enforced, sparking backlash in the Cuban exile community in Miami. The measure led to a federal lawsuit and is tied up in court. 


Evolution or flip flop? Marco Rubio journey from bashing "amnesty" to backing citizenship pathway

National Journal's Beth Reinhard (our erstwhile colleague who draws on her coverage of Sen. Marco Rubio's 2010 race):

Arizona Sen. John McCain partnered with liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy in 2005 to offer illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, then allied with border security hardliners during a tough 2010 Republican primary. "Complete the danged fence," McCain cracked in a widely publicized television spot.

Less well known is the equally dramatic pivot by Marco Rubio, from 2010 candidate who dismissed McCain’s proposal as “amnesty,” to U.S. senator who on Monday championed reforms McCain said had “very little difference” from his previous plan, which became the blueprint for failed legislation in 2006 and 2007.

During a March 28, 2010 Fox News debate against then-Gov. Charlie Crist, Rubio said: “He would have voted for the McCain plan. I think that plan is wrong, and the reason I think it’s wrong is that if you grant amnesty, as the governor proposes that we do, in any form, whether it's back of the line or so forth, you will destroy any chance we will ever have of having a legal immigration system that works here in America.”

More here

January 28, 2013

Rep. Joe Garcia welcomes Sen. Rubio's "evolution" on immigration

Newly elected Rep. Joe Garcia, who beat Sen. Marco Rubio's longtime friend David Rivera in the last election, gives the Republican a little praise for his immigration proposal.

And Garcia implicitly asks: What took you so long?

The statement:

"For years we have pushed for a solution to our ineffective and unjust immigration system and I believe 2013 will be the year this goal becomes a reality.  I wholeheartedly welcome Senator Rubio's and others evolution on this important issue and welcome with them with open arms to  join our cause."

 "The Senate's blueprint is a positive step toward this important goal and as a member of the Immigration Subcommittee I look forward to reviewing the details with the Senate. Their 'tough, but fair' approach provides a good foundation for the legislation that is needed. What is most encouraging about their plan is the earned pathway to citizenship, which must be reasonable and begin quickly. It is our hope that our Republican colleagues in the House will see this as a workable framework and be fully willing to cooperate on common sense solutions that will benefit all Americans."


Sens. Rubio and Cruz: Children of Cuban immigrants, but divided over path to citizenship

Cuban-American, young, Republican and beloved by the tea party. But on immigration, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas see things differently.

Rubio is part of the Gang of 8 that revealed the contours of an immigration overhaul, which includes a pathway to citizenship. "It is not going to be an easy process, but it's certainly going to be a fair one and a humane one and one that speaks to our nation's -- to our legacy, both as a nation of laws, but also as a nation of immigrants," Rubio said.

Cruz, in a statement, took issue with that approach. “There are some good elements in this proposal, especially increasing the resources and manpower to secure our border and also improving and streamlining legal immigration. However, I have deep concerns with the proposed path to citizenship. To allow those who came here illegally to be placed on such a path is both inconsistent with rule of law and profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who waited years, if not decades, to come to America legally.”

Below, a transcript of Rubio's remarks. ... Read more

Posted by Alex Leary

Gov. Rick Scott, House members paying less for health insurance than rank-and-file state workers

Last year, the Florida Senate decided that it would begin paying the same amount for health insurance coverage as rank-and-file state workers. But Gov. Rick Scott, the Cabinet and the vast majority of the Florida House continue to pay the cheaper insurance rates afforded to those in management positions.

Today, the Associated Press puts those facts in the context of decisions facing the Legislature when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, mainly whether or not to expand Medicaid to reduce the number of unisured Floridians.

More from the AP:

Gov. Rick Scott and state legislators will soon decide whether Florida should extend health insurance coverage to nearly 1 million residents, and those officials all get their plans from the state, many paying less than state workers.

Scott, as well as the three other Republican members of the Cabinet, and nearly all state lawmakers are enrolled in Florida's health insurance plan.

For Scott, the cost to cover him and his wife is less than $400 a year. A total of 107 out of 120 members of the Florida House pay the same or less for coverage.

The 40 members of the Florida Senate also are covered by the state, but this month they started paying the same as rank-and-file career service employees under a proposal pushed by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart. Career service workers pay $50 a month for individual coverage and $180 a month for family coverage.

"The people who work here at night and clean our offices are valuable people," said Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville. "We shouldn't be paying less for our health insurance while they are paying more."

Continue reading "Gov. Rick Scott, House members paying less for health insurance than rank-and-file state workers" »