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January 21, 2017

Florida woman at D.C. anti-Trump march: 'I feel like my innocence was taken away' on Election Day

Trump Inaurgration Protests

WASHINGTON -- In what they proclaimed to be an act of rekindled political resistance, hundreds of thousands of women — and men, and children, but mostly women — took over the pulsating streets of the nation’s capital Saturday to protest Donald Trump less than 24 hours after he assumed the presidency.

The demonstrators overwhelmed downtown Washington from just after dawn into the evening, in a show of force against a chief executive they see as threatening to the liberal views espoused by a popular majority that nevertheless lost the electoral vote. Massive marches to oppose Trump also took place in Miami, New York City, Chicago, Boston and other big U.S. cities, and other global capitals, including London, Paris, Sydney, Ottawa and Nairobi.

“I feel like my innocence was taken away the day he was elected. I had blinders on,” said Tracy Sassi, a 49-year-old from Fort Lauderdale who flew into Washington with her 15-year-old stepdaughter, Sofia Vera, who said the day had “kind of restored my faith in humanity.”

So many more protesters spilled into Washington — an estimated half-million, about double what had been expected — that organizers scrapped their original route from a rally at the U.S. Capitol to the White House. For a brief, confusing period, it appeared no march would take place because the throngs were so big and unwieldy. But the crush of people moved as if with a mind of its own, walking down off-route streets even before the Capitol rally concluded.

“This is the upside of the downside,” feminist icon Gloria Steinem, 82, said from stage early on in the rally. “This is an outpouring of democracy like I’ve never seen in my very long life.”

The same streets that a day earlier had seen delighted Trump supporters make their way to the National Mall were now crammed by his most fervent opponents — a two-day display, if ever there was one, of the messy passions of democracy.

More here.

Photo credit: Alex Brandon, Associated Press

Women's March on Miami overflows Bayfront Park venue

0358 Women's March Trump Protest 012117
via @harrisalexc @jordanglevin @ReneMiamiHerald

An estimated 10,000 descended into the Bayfront Park Amphitheater Saturday for the Women’s Rally of South Florida before Miami-Dade fire marshals closed off the entrance at 2 p.m. due to overwhelming crowds.

The crowd started marching west on Northeast Second Street shortly before 3 p.m.

The march was one of hundreds around the globe to coincide with Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, which drew roughly half a million people on the day after President Trump’s inauguration to mount a full-throated protest against Trump and Republican Congressional leaders on women’s rights. Thousands of women from South Florida trekked to the nation’s capital to take part in the march.

The Miami rally focused on an array of causes built around human rights — women’s rights, immigrant rights, LGBT rights and environmental rights. Keeping access to healthcare after Republicans in Congress voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has provided medical insurance to 20 million Americans, also drew many to the march.

“We really felt it was important for the rest of the country — and people around the world — to stand in solidarity with the people who can’t make it to D.C.,” Stephanie Myers, 42, one of the organizers of the South Florida rally, had told The Herald. “The rhetoric of this cycle was just so divisive.”

More here.

Photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff

Trump's inauguration prompts Miami backers to break out champagne

President1 trump lnew cmg
via @harrisalexc

A thousand miles from where Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States Friday afternoon, Miamians kept the party going.

From Cuban restaurants on Coral Way to penthouse apartments in Miami Beach to backyards in Kendall, South Floridians broke out the champagne and “Make America Great Again” cakes to honor the New York real estate magnate’s election.

A bout of pneumonia prevented Louise Sunshine, CEO of the real estate development company Sunshine Select Worldwide, from making it to Washington, D.C., so she watched with close friends at home.

As news cameras panned across the crowd shivering and sniffling in the below-50 degree weather, warm sunlight poured into Sunshine’s penthouse apartment. A crowd of bankers, real estate developers and art dealers — Sunshine called them “doers” — clustered around the couch, eyes glued to CNN’s coverage of the inauguration.

Sunshine pointed out various Trump family members onscreen: “Melania looks like Jackie Kennedy; Ivanka Trump walks on water; Donald is relentless.”

When Trump spoke the last word of the oath, everyone in the room raised a glass.

“It’s unbelievable,” Sunshine said. “It’s like my whole life playing out in front of me.”

More here.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, Miami Herald staff

January 20, 2017

Fact-checking Donald Trump's claim about shrinking Navy



President Donald Trump has vowed to rebuild the U.S. military, which he said during his inauguration speech represented a "sad depletion."

A page on foreign policy on the newly revamped Trump White House websiteincludes some statistics about a shrinking military:

"Our Navy has shrunk from more than 500 ships in 1991 to 275 in 2016. Our Air Force is roughly one-third smaller than in 1991. President Trump is committed to reversing this trend, because he knows that our military dominance must be unquestioned."

The size of the Navy’s fleet has been a familiar talking point at least during the past two presidential campaigns.

But many of the past claims we have fact-checked compared the fleet to 1917, or 100 years ago, when technology was considerably different.

Trump’s claim is a more reasonable comparison. We found that his numbers are correct, and that there are valid concerns about the size of the Navy. The Obama administration supported an increase in the number of ships.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Broward Sheriff's Office estimates cost of response to Fort Lauderdale airport shooting

FLL Airportswat DS


The Broward Sheriff's Office estimates that it has spent about $370,000 in response to the Jan. 6th mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

That includes the overtime costs for responding to the shooting that day and the increase in security at the airport since the shooting that left five people dead.

BSO has spent $261,082 on overtime between Jan. 6-13 and $100,000 on post-event security enhancements Jan. 14-25. The other expenses include $5,107 for fire/rescue overtime and $3,774 for meals. That brings the total tab to $369,963.

According to a BSO document, 509 employees responded to the airport shooting on Jan. 6th.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel has said he plans to seek more money from the county to cover security at the airport. However, no long-term security decisions are expected until the county writes an after-action plan that could take several weeks, if not months.

BSO is seeking reimbursement from the state and federal government.


Galvano: Fontainebleau 'didn't pick our firm to influence me'

Bill GalvanoThe powerful lawmaker who is heading the Senate's gambling negotiations confirmed he has done legal work for the owners of the Fountainbleau Resort, a real estate firm seeking to bring slot machines to Miami Beach.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, told the Herald/Times that Turnberry Associates, the owners of Aventura Mall and the Fontainebleau "are a former client." He said his law firm, Grimes Goebel Grimes Hawkins Gladfelter & Galvano, did land use law for the company four years ago and he personally worked with Turnberry on a commercial transaction three years ago. The story was first reported by the Associated Press on Thursday.

"It's not a continuing relationship right now and I don't even see it as an issue,'' Galvano said Friday. Galvano is a partner in the firm, which has offices in Bradenton and Miami. He reported $451,000 in income and profit sharing from the firm last year. 

Last week, Galvano filed a massive Senate bill that will expand gaming in Florida, allow for two new slots licenses to bidders in Miami Beach and Broward County, and open the door to slots licenses at race tracks around the state. The bill would regulate online fantasy sports and allow the state to buy out active gaming permits in exchange for the new slots licenses. Galvano said the proposal is intended to open the debate with the Seminole Tribe which is negotiating a renewal of its billion dollar compact with the state.

Galvano is also serving as the Senate's key negotiator with the Tribe on the compact, a role he also served in 2010 when he was the House's key negotiator on the first compact that is now in force.

At that time, Turnberry Associates was not a client, Galvano told the Herald/Times, but subsequently became a client.

"I do not believe they picked our firm to influence me,'' Galvano said. "I know what we do and the work that we do around the state is not unusual. I have several Miami clients, big clients too." He said the one of his "big clients" introduced him to the owners of the Turnberry Associates. 

"I know we provide a service and it was not unusual for us to be working in that venue,'' he said.

Since 2013, Galvano's political committee, Innovate Florida, has received more than $342,000 from organizations that have a stake in the gaming bill, campaign finance records show. He received the most $205,000 from Disney Worldwide Services, which opposes any expansion of gambling but the second highest amount from a single entity -- $90,000 -- came from Fontainebleau Resorts.

The current gaming compact with the Tribe, as negotiated by Galvano, effectively serves to cap gaming expansion in Florida and makes it very difficult for companies like the Fontainebleau to obtain a slots license. It requires that any new slots licenses approved by the state would result in a loss of nearly $200 million in annual gaming revenues from the Seminole Tribe.

Under the bill Galvano proposed last week, any new slots licenses would have to receive approval from the Florida Division of Parimutuel Wagering based on certain criteria, and would not require legislative approval. The challenge for slots proponents like Fontainebleau Resorts, however, is getting approval for the slots expansion through both the House and Senate.

Galvano downplayed his role over any new licenses and said he is confident there will be "many potential applicants who have had an interest in Florida for a long time'' if new slots permits are approved.

"I want the competition,'' he said. "If we are going to have additional economic development out of new licenses, lets run up the numbers and see who will present the best deal. That will probably be best determined by the division, based on criteria, some of which is spelled out in the bill."

Since 2010 the Fontainebleau has donated nearly $2.3 million in contributions, including more than $800,000 to the Republican Party of Florida, the Associated Press reported.

Galvano said "it's very difficult being a lawyer-legislator and [this question] comes with the territory." He added that any assumption that his legal work was used to influence his legislative work "was trying to draw a much bigger conclusion than what was reality, but that's how it happens."

The lead lobbyist for Turnberry Associates, Michael Corcoran, is the brother of House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Michael Corcoran. did not return a request for comment.

Trump vows to stop 'American carnage' in gritty inaugural address

@PatriciaMazzei and @NewsbySmiley

In his first, fiery words as the nation’s 45th president, Donald John Trump presented a nationalist vision of America, breaking with tradition to invoke his unapologetically raw campaign, rebuke the country’s principal political parties, and offer a populist ode to the “forgotten” people who, against all odds, elected him.

“Today, we’re not transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another, but we’re transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you, the people. For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” Trump told energized supporters gathered under damp skies along the National Mall.

“That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.”

Deploying unusually gritty rhetoric for an inaugural address, Trump, 70, portrayed a bleak nation in need of saving. He described “mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”

“This American carnage stops right here and right now,” said Trump, the only president never to have previously held public or military office.

To read the rest, click here.

Florida reacts to Donald Trump's inauguration


AP_DCDP148_TRUMP_INAUGURATIDonald Trump is now president of the United States.

Here is how Florida politicians reacted to his inauguration:

Gov. Rick Scott, who campaigned for Trump and was on hand for the inauguration:

Scott also dropped a quote about Trump into his announcement Friday morning that Florida businesses created 237,000 jobs in 2016.

"Today, as we proudly welcome a new president who will make job creation a top priority across our nation, we stand ready to fight for another great year of economic growth in Florida," Scott said in the statement.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes:

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who lost to Trump in the Republican primary:

Republican Party of Florida Chariman Blaise Ingoglia said in a statement: "The road to the White House was not an easy one, but regardless of where political loyalties lie, the peaceful transfer of power for this nation is a meaningful and historic day.  We are grateful to the millions of grassroots leaders and volunteers that worked arduously for this moment and for their unwavering passion of a government accountable to the people."

Continue reading "Florida reacts to Donald Trump's inauguration" »

Who wants to serve on the Constitution Revision Commission? Here's who has applied so far

Florida Constitution Florida MemoryToday is the deadline to apply to House Speaker Richard Corcoran to be a part of Florida's unique opportunity for a citizens panel to propose changes to the Florida Constitution, the 37-member Constitution Revision Commission.

The Senate set a deadline of Dec. 9 but today Senate spokesperson Katie Betta said the Senate has decided to continue accepting applications.   Download Senate MEMO re 2017 CRC Applications 2016 09 23 (1)The Supreme Court Dec. 31.

Gov. Rick Scott, who appoints 15 members and the chairman, also has decided to continue taking applications here. Applications for the Florida Supreme Court closed Dec. 31.

For the list of applications we have collected so far, scroll to the end of our story here.


The story of one Florida woman's decision to march in D.C.

The last time Martha Barnett took part in a political demonstration was more than 30 years ago, back when Florida was debating whether to approve the Equal Rights Amendment. But the 69-year-old Tallahassee lawyer is making the 12-and-a-half hour drive to the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington Saturday.

Calling herself shocked and offended by Donald Trump’s views, especially toward minorities and women, Barnett joined thousands Barnett_Martha_72of Floridians flocking to the nation’s capital this weekend to make their voices heard. “Trump needs to know we care, we’re not going anywhere, and we’re going to hold him accountable,” Barnett said.

During the campaign, Barnett said she was disgusted by Trump’s treatment of women, and said she has become increasingly alarmed by his incessant use of Twitter during the transition to demean others, such as Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a pioneering civil rights leader.

“I had hoped for more,” Barnett said. “I hoped he would rise to the office. He has to know that there are men and women who care deeply about some of these issues he has treated with disgust, disdain and downright disrespect ... I want more out of the president of the United States than that attitude. We care about the office. We care about him being successful.”

Barnett, a Democrat and a former American Bar Association president, was the first woman partner at the Holland & Knight law firm. She was an invited guest to both of Bill Clinton’s inaugurations and said she did not think of her activism in Washington as confrontational or negative. She said her decision to go to D.C. was inspired in part by one of her mentors, Chesterfield Smith, another former ABA president. “He always said, ‘No man is above the law.’ That’s why I’m going,” Barnett said.


January 19, 2017

Miami teachers union protests Trump education secretary pick

via @KyraGurney

Dozens of Miami-Dade teachers joined more than 200 other teacher unions across the country Thursday in protesting President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education.

Close to 100 teachers and activists gathered outside Miami Jackson Senior High School to urge the U.S. Senate to reject Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. Similar rallies were held in 25 states in an effort intended to ramp up political opposition to DeVos, a powerful proponent of parental choice and charter schools, and to call for greater investment in public education and schools.

Demonstrators in Allapattah lined 36th Street outside the high school, waving signs and chanting “Betsy needs to go!” and “Save our schools!” as some passing cars honked in support.

“How can we have a nominee who has never even attended a public school, whose children have never attended public school?” asked Donna Walker, a special-education teacher at Brucie Ball Educational Center, voicing a common complaint among the protesters.

More here.

Photo credit: Patrick Farrell, Miami Herald staff

Obama's inaugural poet to debut new poem on Trump inauguration day

Richard blanco
via @Carlos_Frias

Richard Blanco assigned himself a writing prompt.

During the most divisive stretch of the presidential campaign, about six weeks before Election Day, the Miami-raised poet asked himself a simple question.

What if he, the immigrant son of Cuban parents, the first Latino and openly gay man asked to write a poem for a president’s inauguration four years ago, were asked to write a poem to read at Friday’s inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump?

And so he began to write.

Blanco turned down the noise from television, radio and the internet and turned up his inner monologue.

“You can’t help but put yourself back in those shoes and ask, ‘How would you approach a poem in this situation?’” Blanco said.

After months of wrestling with what started as an exercise, he will publish his new poem, “Declaration of Inter-Dependence” on Friday at the poetry site He shared an exclusive excerpt with the Miami Herald.

“We’re them. They’re you. You’re me ... . We’re a poem in progress,” his newest work opens.

More here.

Photo credit: Jose A. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald

Miami's Helen Aguirre Ferré gets White House post


Miamian Helen Aguirre Ferré, who took a rather thankless job during the presidential campaign as a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, won a post Thursday in incoming President Donald Trump's White House. 

Aguirre Ferré will be a special assistant to the president and director of media affairs, Trump's transition team announced.

Time is running out to apply to the Constitutional Revision Commission

Scott Negron CorcoranFriday is the last day to apply to be a member of what may be one of the most influential groups assembled in Florida in two decades — the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission.

The unique panel has the power to put proposals directly on the 2018 mid-term ballot to reform and update the state’s constitution, and shape Florida’s future. The list of applicants is long, and many have been carefully recruited by Gov. Rick Scott, the chief justice of the Supreme Court and Florida’s top two legislative leaders. Those four men will make the appointments.

The state has done this twice before: in 1978 — after the 1968 rewrite of the state Constitution — and 1998. If past experience is any indicator, the commission will be mostly political insiders.

Want to know who has applied this time? Read more here.

Report: Rick Scott is helping Trump craft Obamacare replacement



Gov. Rick Scott, a former hospital executive, is lending his friend President-elect Donald Trump a hand in dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

On Wednesday, he said he's working closely with Congressman Tom Price, Trump's pick to run the Department of Health and Human Services, to write legislation that would replace President Barack Obama's signature health care law, McClatchy D.C. reported.

“I’ve spent quite a bit of time already with Congressman Price, who I’ve known for a long time, to try to come up with a plan to repeal what doesn’t work and to replace it with something that’s going to drive down costs and improve access,” Scott told reporters, according to the report.

He did not provide specifics.

Scott --who ran the hospital company Columbia/HCA before becoming governor -- has been a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Scott was at Columbia/HCA during what was then the largest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history. The case was settled after he left the company, though Scott wanted to fight the accusations.

In 2015, he sued the federal government, saying the Obama administration was wrongly trying to coerce the state into expanding Medicaid. Scott fought hard against legislation expanding health care coverage to low-income Floridians that year.

He also launched a health care commission that dug into hospitals' billing practices and targeted what Scott termed "price gauging" practices.

This post has been updated to clarify details about the Columbia/HCA Medicare fraud case.

Photo: Gov. Rick Scott. (Scott Keeler, Tampa Bay Times)

Court overturns three death sentences, including cop killer's


OT_392168_KEEL_15_FLGOV0305The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday overturned death sentences for three men, including a convicted cop killer.

Lancelot Uriley Armstrong was convicted of killing John Greeney, a Broward County sheriff's deputy and Air Force veteran, during a 1990 armed robbery at a Church's Fried Chicken in Fort Lauderdale. The jury voted 9-3 to sentence him to death and gave another man involved in the armed robbery a life sentence. 

Now, Armstrong, as well as Donald Otis Williams, convicted of kidnapping and murdering an 81-year-old woman in 2010, and William M. Kopsho, sentenced for killing his wife in 2000 after learning she was having an affair, will have new sentencing hearings.

It's possible they could still be sentenced to death, but they could also see their sentences commuted to life in prison.

Courts will empanel new juries to decide how to sentence each of these men, though they will not determine whether they are guilty, as their first-degree murder convictions have not been overturned.

If the Florida Legislature updates the state's death penalty laws to require a unanimous vote for a death sentence -- as state Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando, has proposed (SB 280) -- then a vote of all 12 jurors could put them to death. Anything less would lead to a life sentence. (The state Supreme Court threw out Florida's death penalty laws as unconstitutional last year because they did not require unanimous jury votes.)

By demanding new sentencing hearings in these cases, the court is putting into practice a Dec. 22 ruling that could lead to life sentences for some of the 200-plus death-row prisoners whose cases were finalized after a key U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2002.

It's likely similar decisions will continue to trickle out of the court in the coming months.

In the December rulings, the justices decided that death sentences finalized after June 2002 were unconstitutional because they did not require a unanimous jury vote and because the judge could impose a death sentence without the jury's approval. It's a standard critics, including Senior Justice James Perry, have criticized as "arbitrary."

Older sentences still stand. The court affirmed two of them Thursday, as well, including the case of Stanley McCloud, convicted of killing his wife with a .357 magnum in front of their two young children.

Photo: Florida Supreme Court. (Scott Keeler, Tampa Bay Times)

After Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, a look at how Florida lags behind on mental health funding

FLL Airportpeoplerunning


The suspect in the mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport told the FBI in Alaska in November that he was hearing voices.

Anchorage police confiscated Esteban Santiago’s handgun and took him for a mental health evaluation. Police returned his gun to him in December when he asked for it.

On Jan. 6, he flew to Broward County and is the suspected gunman in a rampage at the airport that left five dead and several others injured. Days later, Democratic state legislators held a press conference in Tallahassee to argue for gun control measures and more mental health funding.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said that Republican legislators argue that the way to reduce gun violence is not through gun control but mental health care funding. But Florida, he said, has the worst record in the nation in terms of funding mental health care treatment.

"We see once again Florida is ranked 50th in the nation for mental health care funding — 50th," he said. "There is no one that is doing worse than we are when it comes to making sure we that we are providing comprehensive mental health care."

Florida is near the bottom of the pack in mental health funding, and one key ranking cited by many experts places the state at 51st in per capita spending. However, there are some caveats about the ranking.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott's Sunshine Ball in Washington


via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - Hundreds of guests packed Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium Wednesday for Gov. Rick Scott's Florida Sunshine Ball, which featured a Beach Boys performance and kicked off a days long celebration for incoming President Donald Trump.

"When Florida throws a party you have to show," said former U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff.

Among those we saw in the crowd: U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney and Matt Gaetz, former Rep. Allen Boyd,  Blaise IngogliaAl Cardenas, Lew Oliver, Nick Diceglie, J.J. Beyrouti, Christian Ziegler, and Brian Ballard, who arrived in a Cadillac SUV with Joe Negron. Sen. Marco Rubio was apparently inside the room, which was lit up in neon.

January 18, 2017

Trump inauguration draws South Florida attendees from outside politics

Palmetto Ridge Band Sendoff

Tickets in hand for Friday’s main event — and for three nights of celebratory balls — Rachel Sapoznik packed her fur coat and boarded a JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale to Washington on Wednesday, prepared to bundle up to experience the pomp surrounding Donald Trump’s inauguration.

She arrived to a pleasant weather surprise at the nation’s capital: “It’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful!” she said by phone, coat in hand.

Sapoznik, who owns an employer health-benefits company in North Miami Beach, made big plans to attend her first presidential swearing-in, starting with Wednesday night’s Florida Sunshine Ball hosted by Gov. Rick Scott.

South Floridians of all stripes started trickling into Washington this week ahead of Friday’s inauguration and the many festivities leading up to it.

As always, there will be a robust contingent of Republican politicians. In addition to the governor and his wife, Ann (who is hosting a tea), Attorney General Pam Bondi, one of Trump’s closest allies, will be in town. So will Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, state House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Land O’Lakes and state Senate President Joe Negron of Stuart, as well as Miami state Reps. Jose Felix Diaz and Carlos Trujillo, who are splitting a two-bedroom apartment they found on Airbnb. Members of Congress will be welcoming constituents to their Capitol Hill offices — in U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s case, with donuts and cafecito.

A few Democrats — Reps. Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach, Darren Soto of Orlando and Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens — are skipping the inauguration.)

Some attendees already know how special inaugurations can be: Diaz attended President Bill Clinton’s second inaugural — and the Florida ball — as a high school student.

“It’s probably one of the coolest trips I’ve ever taken in my life,” he said. “It’s probably one of the reasons I’m in politics today.”

But Trump was an unusual candidate who did not cozy up to the political establishment. So while his inauguration is attracting the usual plugged-in crowd, it’s also drawing the same grassroots believers who lifted him to victory.

More here.

Photo credit: Nicole Raucheisen/Naples Daily News via AP

Florida members of Congress ask Trump to save federal hospital funding


Seven Florida members of Congress from both political parties want incoming President Donald Trump's administration to renew -- and perhaps grow -- federal hospital funding for the state.

Florida's Low Income Pool, which helps pay for a hospital safety net across the state, is set to expire June 30. Gov. Rick Scott sued the Obama administration over recent cuts to the funding, alleging it was attempted coercion to get Florida to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

"The State of Florida has chosen not to expand Medicaid," the lawmakers write, and add that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service's "prescribed policy change has had unintended and detrimental consequences for children’s hospitals including Nicklaus Children’s, Joe DiMaggio Children’s, and St. Joseph’s Children’s, among others."

"Floridians should not be held hostage in healthcare policy reform negotiations between the state and federal governments," they added. "Regardless of the form that future federal healthcare reform efforts may take, a robust and improved LIP should be in place to ensure that Florida’s healthcare safety net is strengthened and secure."

According to the office of Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who put the effort together, the letter has been signed by fellow Republican Reps. Gus Bilirakis of Gainesville, Carlos Curbelo of Miami and Dan Webster of Clermont, as well as Democratic Reps. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg and Darren Soto of Orlando.

Read the letter below.

Continue reading "Florida members of Congress ask Trump to save federal hospital funding" »