December 08, 2011

Jackson could lose $133 million under Gov. Scott's budget plan

Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to pay less to hospitals to control spiraling Medicaid costs drew skepticism from some lawmakers and hostility from hospitals Thursday.

Scott’s plan is central to his $66 billion budget proposal, and ensures that his own history as CEO of a for-profit hospital chain that paid a record $1.7 billion in fines for Medicare fraud would attract new attention.

Explaining Scott’s plan to legislators, senior aides touted the governor’s background as having built Columbia/HCA into the nation’s biggest and most profitable hospital network. Story here.

Meanwhile, Jackson Health System stands to lose $133.5 million in Medicaid funds under the proposed budget of Gov. Rick Scott, according to a study released Thursday by the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida.

That would make Jackson the biggest loser among the state’s hospitals as the governor attempts to balance the budget by reducing reimbursement rates for the state-federal insurance for the poor. Scott is also suggesting that the maximum allowable in-patient days that Medicaid will pay will be reduced from 45 to 23, the alliance said.

The alliance analysis estimated Memorial Healthcare in South Broward could lose $58 million, Broward Health in North Broward could lose $42 million and Miami Children’s could lose $34 million. Story here.

November 02, 2011

Senate Prez Haridopolos endorses Connie Mack

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, a former candidate for U.S. Senate, announced Wednesday that he will endorse Florida Congressman Connie Mack for the post "because he would be a first class senator, he has the experience and most importantly, in these very difficult times he has the consistent conservative record."

Mack, R-Fort Myers, announced last week that he would enter the race, shaking up the field that now includes three other Republican candidates. Haridopolos, who dropped out of the race last summer after nine months, made his announcement at the annual Associated Press pre-session press briefing and said that he and his wife "will do everything we can" to help him and urge his supporters to support Mack.  


Unlike Rubio, most Republican U.S. Senate candidates skip AP news meeting

UPDATE: Senate President Mike Haridoplos has endorsed Connie Mack in the race. "He is going to elevate the debate in the Republican primary."

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner has patterned much of his campaign on Marco Rubio. Here's one difference: Rubio showed up to the annual Associated Press editors meeting in Tallahassee when he was a candidate.

Rubio faced tough questions about immigration and his personal financial disclosures when put his campaign in front of reporters and editors around the state. Hasner, who has no public events on his schedule today, won't have to do that. Neither will former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack who also are not here.

The Republicans who did come today the only two candidates who have not held elected office: businessman Craig Miller and retired Army Col. Mike McCalister.

A Public Policy Polling survey released Sept. 28 showed McCalister leading the pack with 17 percent while 58 percent of voters were undecided.

Continue reading "Unlike Rubio, most Republican U.S. Senate candidates skip AP news meeting" »

October 31, 2011

PolitiFact Florida: Did Adam Hasner get an F from the Christian Coalition?

Is Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner a failure according to the Christian Coalition?

That's what one of Hasner's primary opponents, George LeMieux, wants voters to think. A video we saw on LeMieux's website,, on Oct. 5, picks apart Hasner's record as a former state legislator:

"In politics talk is cheap. Voting records matter. Career politician Adam Hasner wants you to think he is a conservative," states the sinister voice as images of Hasner speaking in the Legislature appear on the screen. "Small problem. His record. Hasner used to describe himself as a 'moderate' because his support for stem cell research, his attempt to weaken pro-life laws and his opposition to expanding school vouchers. The Christian Coalition gave Hasner an F...." states the voice as the screen flashes to a 2007 report card highlighting that Hasner scored 57.1.

We're wondering about that "F" for Hasner, who is trying to tout his conservative credentials. Ouch. Does this LeMieux claim make the grade?

Read PolitiFact Florida's ruling here.

October 04, 2011

"They may not love him but they'll still cast a ballot for him"

PPP polled the Florida Senate race again, and says it's "the same old story."

The story? "Bill Nelson's approval numbers don't look terrribly impressive but he has a double digit lead over all of his Republican opponents anyway."

The North Carolina-based pollsters, who do a lot of work for Democrats, report that the incumbent's approval rating is at 40 percent this month, with 32 percent of voters disapproving of him. "He actually has an unusual -- and healthy -- amount of crossover support from Republicans," the pollsters wrote. They found 21 percent of Republcians think Nelson's doing a good job; only 45 percent give him bad marks.

What keeps Nelson's approval low? A lack of enthusiasm for him from Democratic voters, the pollsters said. Only 62 percent of Democratic voters approve, to 20 percent disapproving. "Usually you'll see a senator more in the 70 to 80 percent approval range within their own party," the pollsters noted.

That said, 80 to 84 percent of Democrats said they'd vote for him over any of his potential Republican opponents.  He also has 12 to 15 percent crossover support from Republican voters, against his potential Republican opponents.  Neslon leads Mike McCalister 47 to 34, George LeMieux and Adam Hasner each 49 to 35, and Craig Miller 49 to 32. Nelson also has leads ranging from 19 to 25 points with independent voters, PPP found.

September 09, 2011

Ethics panel OKs finding in Adam Hasner case

The Commission on Ethics voted Friday to ratify an agreement with former state Rep. Adam Hasner of Delray Beach, who failed to file a financial disclosure form within 60 days of leaving office as required by law. A staff report said Hasner claimed he didn't know he had to submit the form, but "Ignorance of the law is no excuse," the report said, quoting a Florida appeals court decision in Gusow v. State.

Hasner is currently a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. No penalty was recommended because the ethics commission has no jurisdiction over legislators, who write Florida's ethics laws. Only the House can impose a penalty, but that may be impossible because Hasner is no longer in the Legislature. The former House majority leader was termed out in 2010.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Dean Cannon, Katherine Betta, said Cannon would review the ethics panel's finding but could not comment beyond that as to whether the House would take action.

Hasner, who previously had filed his annual financial disclosure statements in a timely fashion, is the third current or former lawmaker in recent months who has run afoul of the disclosure law. The others are Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne. Neither Hasner nor his attorney, Robert Fernandez, attended Friday's hearing in the Capitol. The complaint against Hasner was filed by Diana Demarest of Loxahatchee.

-- Steve Bousquet


August 24, 2011

Oops. Adam Hasner's old campaign mailer used the 'M' word: moderate


Incoming Florida Senate President Don Gaetz once said that he tries to speak "honeyed words so that when I have to eat them, they taste sweet."

Well, open up Adam Hasner.

The Republican U.S. Senate candidate who's stumping as an unwavering conservative hardliner. But he didn't always, notes Jack Furnari, a Broward Republican and blogger who unearthed an old Hasner mailer that bears the now-dreaded "m" word: "Moderate." Based on that and a few other mailers Furnari says in the BizPac review that the Delray Republican is a "moderate-conservative chameleon."

We didn't go that far, but in this piece, the Herald/Times noted that Hasner's campaign rhetoric doesn't always match his record.

Belated public apologies to Furnari as well. In 2010, in private email correspondence, I questioned how he could state that Crist was leaving the Republican Party when the governor had repeatedly denied it.


August 23, 2011

Bense backs Hasner

Former state House Speaker Allan Bense, a respected elder statesman in the Florida GOP who had been recruited to run for U,S. Senate, is throwing his support behind Adam Hasner. The Panama City businessman will be Hasner's statewide chairman.

"I've known both Adam and George throughout the years, and there's no doubt in my mind that Adam is the principled conservative that Florida Republicans should support," said Bense. "Adam has a long record of standing up for mainstream, conservative principles that no other candidate in this race can match. He's earned a reputation as a fighter and a straight-shooter who sticks to what he believes, no matter which way the political winds blow. I know he'll go to Washington and stand up to both parties when they stray from the common sense, limited-government reforms needed to turn our country around." "It's not enough to elect just any Republican next November. Our Party needs to nominate someone who can fight against the Obama-Nelson agenda and stand shoulder to shoulder with Marco Rubio in the United States Senate. Adam Hasner has the best track record of any candidate on cutting taxes, cutting spending, and fighting for the pro-growth economic policies that we need to create jobs and re-ignite the American economy."

Hasner: "I was proud to call Allan Bense Speaker and I have tremendous respect for him and his family. He was a role model to all of us who had the privilege to serve with him and I am honored to have earned his support for our campaign. During our time in the legislature we worked to advance Governor Jeb Bush's conservative reforms to improve education and grow Florida's economy. As a businessman and community leader, Speaker Bense will help spread our positive message of an American resurgence throughout Florida."

August 19, 2011

LeMieux and McCalister tag-teaming Hasner

If you like politics and you like conspiracy theories, you’ll enjoy this: Speculation that the George LeMieux and Mike McCalister campaigns are working hand in hand to take down former state House majority leader Adam Hasner.

Crazy? Or just crazy enough to work!?

Here are the facts: 1. Both the LeMieux campaign and Hasner campaigns see McCalister, a little known former Army Reserve Col. from Plant City, as bad news for Hasner as both Hasner and McCalister are campaigning for tea party votes.

2. McCalister often criticizes Hasner, but rarely LeMieux.

3. When a veterans group last week raised questions about McCalister’s military record, LeMieux leaped to his defense: "I denounce the unfounded attacks on the military service of Colonel Mike McCalister. The Colonel served our nation honorably in the United States military and he as well as all of our men and women in uniform deserve our gratitude and respect. Any campaign engaging in such baseless attacks should immediately apologize to Colonel McCalister and denounce these tactics."

4. The LeMieux campaign and McCalister campaign often sound like they’re reading from the same script when questioning Hasner’s conservative credentials. 5. LeMieux’s chief consultant, Jon Lerner, worked with the Club for Growth to help  Sharron Angle's U.S. senate race in Nevada last year. McCalkister consultant John Yob worked on Angles's campaign.

No, it doesn’t add up to anything solid, but it’s enough to make people suspicious.

"The voters of Florida can draw their own conclusions when campaigns begin to sing off the same hymnal,’’ said Hasner senior adviser Rick Wilson. "Its no surprise that Charlie Crist called George LeMieux "the maestro." As a political operative he was famous for orchestrating smear campaigns against people like Marco Rubio and setting up shady third party groups. It’s no surprise that George LeMieux would attempt to manipulate another campaign to do his dirty work."

The McCalister and LeMieux campaigns scoffed at the suggestion they’re coordinating - in very similar ways.

McCalister adviser Buzz Jacobs: "Adam Hasner is pretending to be a conservative, when in reality he is a self-proclaimed moderate. The only connection between the campaigns is disdain for chameleons."

LeMieux adviser Brian Seitchik: "It seems like the McCalister campaign has sniffed out that Hasner’s a phony conservative just like we have. We’re running our own campaign, they’re running their campaign."

Yob emails:

Although "I have great respect for Jon Lerner by reputation, in my memory I have not met, talked to, nor communicated with him in my life. "

August 17, 2011

George LeMieux's fundraising, endorsement coup

Tim Pawlenty's decision to bow out of the Republican race for president has become George LeMieux's gain in his bid for U.S. Senate. LeMieux has hired Ann Herberger, Pawlenty's former fundraiser, for his race.

LeMieux is also coming off a particularly strong fundraising quarter where he pulled in nearly $1 million (80 percent for the primary). The addition of Herberger should help him keep his numbers up. But it's a crowded Republican field. Tampa's Mike McCalister is proving surprisingly strong and former state House Republican leader Adam Hasner has become a darling of the conservative intelligentsia.

Meantime, LeMieux's campaign just announced what it called "another major conservative endorsement this morning from the National Tax Limitation Committee PAC (NTLC PAC). The news comes on the heels of the campaign's recent announcement that Gov. Haley Barbour is supporting the campaign....

 As Florida's 34th United States Senator, George LeMieux was given the “Tax Fighter” award by the National Tax Limitation Committee, the “Taxpayer Hero” award by Citizens Against Government Waste, the "Friend of the Family" award by the Christian Family Coalition, and the “Guardian of Small Business” award by the National Federation of Independent Business. George made the debt and deficit his primary focus while serving in the U.S. Senate because of our nation’s unsustainable fiscal path.

Whether the group will help LeMieux win is an open question. It's not known for spending money on campaigns, unlike the groups who have endorsed Hasner