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October 02, 2015

Republican doctors in the Florida House propose alternative ideas for health care reform

A pair of Republican state legislators who are also doctors are pushing an alternate plan to reform health care that runs counter to the proposed overhaul laid out by their party leaders.

Reps. Julio Gonzalez, R-Venice, and Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach, want to keep doctors in control of health care decisions and give individuals incentives to negotiate health care costs. They even want the state to run its own Medicaid program, cutting federal regulations out entirely.

The plan, laid out in a 29-page missive to a House panel Thursday, is an eight-year road map for where the two freshman lawmakers want the state to go. While some of it aligns with House leaders such as soon-to-be Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, many of their ideas conflict with those of lawmakers who are influential in health care.

The goal, according to Gonzalez and Costello, is to cap the total cost of delivering health care at one-third of the state's budget. Medicaid totals $25.7 billion in the current state budget, about 32 percent of the total.

There is a need for a "safety net," they say, but the system as a whole should be built on the idea of "individual ownership" of people's own health care.

Just three months ago, the Florida House voted down a plan to request federal Medicaid money as a way to fund private health insurance for needy Floridians. Gonzalez, an orthopedic surgeon, and Costello, a dentist, were in the 72-vote majority.

Instead of expanding Medicaid, they suggest that the state create its own program to pay for needy Floridians' health care.

Under the plan, Florida would still use federal Medicaid dollars but would seek waivers for federal regulations.

More here.

October 01, 2015

News Service of Florida: Fascism! Eugenics! Ritual sacrifice! ...And the Florida Libertarian Party

From the News Service of Florida:

Adrian Wyllie has decided to resign as chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida, he announced Thursday on Facebook, because the rest of the party's executive committee was unwilling to openly oppose Augustus Sol Invictus, the only declared candidate for the party's U.S. Senate nomination.

According to Wyllie, Invictus --- whose translated name purportedly means "Unconquerable Sun God" --- is a fascist who supports eugenics and is committed to start a second Civil War.

"Mr. Invictus practices Thelema, an occult pagan religion based on the teachings of Aleister Crowley," Wyllie wrote. "Mr. Invictus was ejected from Ordo Templi Orientis for brutally and sadistically dismembering a goat in a ritualistic sacrifice."

On his website, Invictus says he uses Benito Mussolini's logo because it "dates back to the Roman Republic and represents strength through unity." Invictus says he wrote a paper in law school supporting eugenics, but has changed his mind and no longer believes it is the right public policy.

Invictus says he is a pagan. And in an August blog post entitled "A Call for Total Insurrection," he quotes himself as saying: "I have prophesied for years that I was born for a Great War." But it's not entirely clear how violent he wants the rebellion to be.

"I want you to take LSD and practice sorcery," Invictus writes. "I want you to listen to trap music and black metal, to learn the law and to break it deliberately, to find your own religion. I want you to learn the use of firearms and subject yourselves to rigorous physical training. I want you to treat your bodies as Holy Temples and to take your girlfriend to a strip club so you can seduce a dancer in the back room. I want you to worship Nature and dance naked in the moonlight `round the fire, screaming in ecstatic joy."

Wyllie said he believes the party should have disowned Invictus.

"While no one on the Executive Committee openly supported Mr. Invictus, only a few had the conviction to stand openly against him," he wrote.

Florida prisons' inspector general steps down for different corrections job

via @jknipebrown

Jeffery Beasley, inspector general of Florida’s Department of Corrections, said Thursday that he is stepping down to assume another role at the embattled agency.

His announcement comes after more than a year of widespread criticism and allegations by corrections officers, inspectors, sworn law enforcement officers and prisoners that he and others in his office failed to investigate, and in some cases, may have even thwarted, investigations into the suspicious deaths, beatings and medical neglect of inmates in Florida state prisons.

In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview with the Miami Herald Thursday, Beasley talked about everything from the accomplishments of his four-year tenure to the high-profile inmate deaths of Darren Rainey and Randall Jordan-Aparo. He hinted that the local, state and federal inquiries into their deaths would reveal no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Beasley, 41, also stated that he is not being “run out on a rail," but rather, elected voluntarily to move into a new role as head of the inspector general’s intelligence division, which is tasked with probing inmate-generated crime, including identity theft and drug and tobacco trafficking.

“This is a phenomenal move and opportunity,’’ Beasley said of his new post. “This is not the secretary running me out of the position. This is not the governor forcing me out of the office."

More here.

Education accountability system is 'broken,' Florida school board members say


Echoing a host of critics, the Florida School Board Association today joined a slew of education groups who are calling for an "overhaul" of the state's education accountability system because of the Florida Standards Assessments' botched debut last spring.

In a statement today, the group said it "firmly supports the Florida Standards and valid and reliable state assessments to measure student progress in mastering those standards.

"However, Florida school board members are deeply concerned about the integrity of Florida’s current accountability system, which they believe has continuously deteriorated," the group continued. "Additionally, the FSBA is concerned with the lack of trust from educators, students and the broader public in the fairness of statewide assessments and standards."

The Florida Department of Education has stood by the FSA, citing an independent validity study last month which found that, despite the technical disruptions in the test administration, the test results can still be used in "group-level" situations -- such as determining school grades and aiding in teachers' performance evaluations. The agency is beginning to release results of last spring's FSA this fall; district percentiles were published Wednesday.

Both the PTA and superintendents association recently declared they have “lost confidence” in the exams and have pushed the state not to issue school grades this year. The school board association agrees.

“The accountability system in Florida is broken. In such a high-stakes testing environment, it is imperative that we reassess current procedures so that we can move forward with a reliable system that educators, students and the community can support,” FSBA Executive Director Andrea Messina said in the statement.

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson top PolitiFact Florida's Truth-O-Meter in September


The GOP presidential debate on CNN fueled many of PolitiFact Florida's most-clicked fact-checks in September.

Claims by three of those candidates -- retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson of West Palm Beach, former Gov. Jeb Bush, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio -- dominated our Top 5 most clicked-on reports in September, as did a couple of attacks on frontrunner Donald Trump.

Here’s a look at our most popular reports from September, counting down to the most popular.

Hillary Clinton to stump in South Florida Friday

With the private-email scandal hurting Hillary Clinton — and Democratic rival Bernie Sanders rising in the polls — the Democratic presidential candidate has expanded her public appearances the past couple of months and will bring her first organizing meeting in Florida to Broward County on Friday afternoon.

She will hold the meeting at Broward College in Davie to pitch herself to Democratic voters. Florida, a swing state with 29 electoral votes, will be a crucial state for Clinton if she is the party’s nominee.

Clinton is choosing the most left-leaning county for one of her first public appearances in Florida. When she appeared at the National Urban League in Fort Lauderdale and at Florida International University on July 31, those events were targeted to a specific topic — for example her opposition to the Cuba embargo at FIU — and to a segment of voters, including African-Americans.

This time she isn’t coming to speak on a particular topic or subset of Democratic voters — she is pitching herself to the left more broadly in an attempt to get them excited about her campaign.

Cynthia Busch, chairwoman of the Broward Democrats, said that Clinton, or any Democrat running for president, needs to let volunteers get to know the candidate in person, and she needs to do it now and not wait for Florida’s March 15 primary.

“In order to get Democrats out to vote in these big urban countries where it really is hard to reach people, you have to have a very focused and totally engaged volunteer effort,” she said. “We saw that with Obama. He did it twice — they were here for two straight years organizing. You need to start early in Broward.... Regardless of what is going to happen in the primary you have to plan for the general now.”

More here.

2 more Republican presidential candidates will attend Florida cattle call


The Republican Party of Florida said Thursday two more 2016 presidential candidates will attend the party's Sunshine Summit in Orlando next month.

Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee have been added to the schedule, RPOF said in a statement. The party announced earlier this week that Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio have also said they'll be there.

The Florida GOP is trying to draw attention to the nation's largest swing state, which doesn't hold its winner-take-all-delegates primary until March 15. Some candidates have been reluctant to campaign here in earnest because Rubio and Bush have monopolized most Florida Republicans' attention.

"The road to the White House goes through Florida, and our grassroots leaders and volunteers are ready to hear the candidates share their vision for the future of our nation," RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said in a statement.

By attending, the candidates avoid penalties that the RPOF was threatening to impose. New rules adopted recently  by the RPOF require candidates either to show up at the Nov. 13-14 Summit at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, write a $25,000 check to the state party, or gather 3,375 signatures from Florida Republicans in order for the party to place their names on Florida's presidential primary ballot in March.

It is all meant to boost attendance at the newly created Summit, which lacks a debate or straw poll that have been big draws at past state party-organized rallies during past presidential election cycles. The RPOF earlier this year announced it was changing the name of its event from what would have been Presidency 6 to the Sunshine Summit.

Without a debate or straw poll, the RPOF has turned the event into a more conference-like structure like the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, where speakers addresses crowds separately over a period of days and hold breakout sessions and other events with their supporters.

--with Jeremy Wallace

Ben Carson's Mostly False claim about illegal immigrants from Iraq, Somalia and Russia

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says the federal government has failed to secure the border and is releasing "hardened criminals" who are trying to invade the United States -- including from Iraq.

Criticism about the federal government releasing criminal illegal immigrants has been a familiar talking point during the GOP presidential primary following the murder this summer of a woman in San Francisco by a convicted felon who had previously been deported.

In a Sept. 25, 2015, speech at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, Carson said that after a trip to the Mexican border, he found that "anybody could get through there." Then he made a claim about how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement releases illegal immigrants:

"And then, you know, when they capture people, ICE tells them to release them. And a lot of those people are not from Honduras and Mexico. They’re from Iraq and Somalia and Russia. And many of them are hardened criminals. And it seems like our federal government is actually fighting against the sheriffs and the people who are down there."

Two days later, Martha Raddatz of ABC News asked Carson if he had evidence that many were hardened criminals from those countries.

Carson, a GOP presidential candidate from West Palm Beach, replied: "Well, I talked to a number of the sheriffs on the borders and they've told me what kind of people are coming over. So I'm not sure that I would trust, quite frankly, any figures coming from the government, given the fact that they are the ones who are problematic."

We decided to check whether "a lot" of illegal immigrants who are released are from Iraq, Somalia and Russia. We couldn’t find comprehensive data on the citizenship of those who are released, but within the universe of those who are apprehended, only a tiny speck are from the countries cited by Carson.

Turn to PolitiFact Florida for the rest of our fact-check.

Davie police say they will provide security at Hillary Clinton event - but not as much as Secret Service asked for

Davie police will provide some security for Hillary Clinton’s visit to Broward College Friday but not the amount of personnel that the Secret Service asked for, a Secret Service spokesman told the Miami Herald Thursday.

The New York Times reported earlier today that Davie police refused to provide security.

From the Times: “An assistant police chief who attended an interagency meeting to prepare for the visit announced the news that the city would not provide security. The Secret Service officials who were at the meeting did not take it well, and promised to name names about the episode if ever called before Congress, according to one of the people at the meeting, who was not authorized to discuss the private session.”

William Cachinero, an assistant special agent in charge of the Miami field office for the Secret Service, said that the Secret Service asked Davie police if they could supplement security. Clinton already gets Secret Service protection since she is a former First Lady but the Secret Service wanted extra protection for her public campaign organizational meeting at Broward College in Friday afternoon.

The Davie police “said they would not be able to have the bodies that we required, they will have people there but not in amount we wanted,” Cachinero said. He said he didn’t have any specific numbers to give the Miami Herald regarding the number of personnel the Secret Service wanted Davie to provide compared to what the police department will actually provide.

The Secret Service had already asked the Broward Sheriff’s Office and Broward College to also provide security -- and both will, he said. Nearby Florida Atlantic University will also provide security.

Continue reading "Davie police say they will provide security at Hillary Clinton event - but not as much as Secret Service asked for " »

As Legislature returns to Tallahassee, Scott is headed to New York

A cranky Florida Legislature returns to Tallahassee next week for a full schedule of committee meetings, including a closer look at budget requests by the state agencies under Gov. Rick Scott's control.

What better time for the jobs governor to hit the road?

Scott announced Thursday that he will travel to New York City on Oct. 6-8 to meet with prospective employers, including hedge funds and financial institutions, and give a luncheon speech on Florida's resurgent economy to the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research on Oct. 7.

A release from Scott's office noted that about 250,000 people move to Florida each year and that the state is the No. 1 destination for New Yorkers on the move.