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Five Things To Know for Monday's Legislative Session

TALLAHASSEE State lawmakers return to Tallahassee on Monday with much remaining on their legislative plate and just three weeks to clear it. From health care to house parties, here's what's happening at the Capitol.
 The House committee focused on implementing the nation's new health care law will decide whether to formally introduce a proposed alternative to Medicaid expansion. The plan, sponsored by Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, would create state subsidies to help up to 130,000 people afford basic health coverage. This plan rejects federal funding, leading Gov. Rick Scott to call it "a double-hit to state taxpayers."
 The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee takes up a long list of the governor's appointees up for confirmation. Two are expected to draw some heat: Public Service Commissioner Lisa Edgar and Barbara Stern, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who has been appointed to the Florida Elections Commission. Stern rents an apartment to Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, to help her establish residency in her district.
 The Senate Judiciary Committee takes up 15 bills trying to get to the Senate floor by session's end. They include a measure requiring physicians to provide medical care to a baby who survives an attempted abortion (SB 1636) and another that expands the definition of open house party to include property. SB 874 states that a property owner must take reasonable steps at a party to prevent underage attendees from drinking alcohol or taking drugs on their property.
 The Senate Criminal Justice Committee takes up a bill that would lead to approval for a five-year pilot program to legalize syringe and needle exchange programs in Miami-Dade County. The Senate version (SB 808) is sponsored by Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami. The aim is to increase public safety by reducing the transmission of diseases among injection drug users.
 A bill allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to order the involuntary examination of a person under the Baker Act (SB 110) is slated for a hearing among a slew of other bills in the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee. Currently, only physicians, clinical psychologists and other social workers and therapists are allowed to issue the examination.

(Katie Sanders, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau)


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No More Rick Scott

SScott's prestigious empire all came a-tumbling down when, on March 19, 1997, FBI agents, in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service, the Health and Human Services (which oversees Medicare), and the Defense Department's Criminal Investigation Service raided Columbia/HCA facilities in El Paso, Texas. Eventually the seizure of documents regarding the case would expand across the country. At issue were allegations that Columbia/HCA had knowingly bilked Medicare and Medicaid.

In fact, according to the Justice Department, ten different kinds of fraud were charged and were filed in five different federal courts in four different states. The search warrants also included dozens of doctors with suspected connections to the alleged fraud.
Incidentally the reason why the Defense Department was involved in this investigation is because Columbia/HCA, through TriCare, managed the healthcare needs of veterans. So we can add the enlisted to the list of victims.

At the time, California Rep. Pete Stark, known for his stand on healthcare issues, expressed the hope that Columbia/HCA executives "will all be in jail soon." He had repeatedly urged that the company's practices be investigated.

By July of 1997, Rick Scott, president and CEO of the company, had been forced to resign. (Scott's website seems fond of the phrase "parted ways" like lonesome cowboys on the wide prairie).



The Senate Criminal Justice Committee takes up a bill that would lead to approval for a five-year pilot program to legalize syringe and needle exchange programs in Miami-Dade County

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