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14 posts from April 18, 2013

April 18, 2013

Controversial Villages proposal now includes Miami Children's request

It was controversial enough when the Legislature was only being asked to change state law to benefit The Villages, a retirement community in Central Florida.

Now, HB 1159 has been amended to include another divisive issue: Miami Children's Hospital's request to build a 10-bed labor and delivery unit.

Both Miami Children's and The Villages are asking for the same thing: special exceptions to the state's process for determining if new hospital units, nursing homes or hospice centers are needed. That has brought down criticism on HB 1159, as hospitals and nursing homes nearby accuse The Villages and Miami Children's of asking friends in the Legislature to help them bypass the rules.

The House Health and Human Services Committee held two contentious votes today. One to add the Miami Children's request onto the bill and another to approve the amended legislation, sending it to the House floor.

The measure passed, but not without criticism from several Democrats and Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. He unsuccessfully tried to gut the bill, introducing an amendment that would have erased all the existing language and replaced it with a study to determine if changes to the "certificate of need" process are warranted.

Fasano pointed out that the committee meeting was a last-minute addition to the House's schedule, and he said it was solely to allow the controversial bill a final chance to reach the House floor.

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House panel gives Miami Children's Hospital its request to expand services

Miami Children's Hospital would be able to provide obstetrical services under a measure that was added to a controversial nursing home bill by a House committee on Thursday.

The committee, House Health and Human Services, was called specially to give a hearing to HB 1159 by Rep. Marlene O'Toole, R-Lady Lake, and the amendment for Miami Children's. O'Toole's bill would to allow The Villages to circumvent the certificate of need process to build a nursing home.

The amendment, which was originally proposed as a bill by Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah, would a  allow Miami Children's also to circumvent the certificate of need process and build a 10-bed maternity wing to treat mothers in high risk births. 

Opponents chastised lawmakers for caving to lobbyist pressures and neglecting the needs of mothers in critical condition who need more comprehensive care than the children's hospital can provide.

Phyllis Oeters, vice president of government relations at Baptist Health South Florida located in Miami, said that hospitals need specialists to deal with complicated cases and there is no record of trouble now.

"No babies have died in transport over two decades to Miami Children's,'' she said. "No babies have died in ambulances." 

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Bloomberg gun group bashes Marco Rubio on guns, "turning his back on the overwhelming majority of Florida voters."

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the group founded and funded in good measure by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is holding a protest press conference today in Doral to draw attention to Sen. Marco Rubio's no vote yesterday on expanded background checks for gun buyers.

Before the vote, the group already announced a small ad buy in the Tampa and Orlando that accuses Rubio of making Florida "less safe" because his opposition to more background checks would allow "criminals and the mentally ill" to more easily get guns.

The press release for today's press conference is below the ad:

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Five Things To Know for Thursday's Legislative Session

TALLAHASSEE South Florida sports are in the spotlight and the Senate’s budget committee buckles down for a full day of voting on bills. Here’s what’s happening Thursday at the Capitol:
 The Miami Dolphins’ push for a bill to approve a tax-supported stadium expansion (SB 306) is up for a hearing in Senate Appropriations, its final committee hurdle before the Senate floor. This bill would make sports teams compete for a single pot of tax breaks.
 That’s just one of dozens of bills up for consideration. There’s also the campaign finance bill (SB 1382) that would eliminate committees of continuous existence (CCEs), a proposal that would allow foster children to decide if they want to stay in foster care until age 21 (SB 1036), and one that would allow people renewing motor vehicle registration forms or getting a driver’s license to donate $1 toward homelessness initiatives by checking a box.
 The House will go back into session with a flight of bills to consider, including some ready for a vote, such as an anti-Sharia law (HB 351). It’s Celebrate Life Day at the Capitol, and the House may mark it by voting on two bills that aim to protect unborn children. HB 759 makes killing an unborn child at any stage of gestation a criminal offense, and HB 845 requires physicians to sign affidavits stating the abortion procedure is not being performed based on race or gender preference.
 A measure that would allow a nursing home in the The Villages, a Central Florida retirement community, is up for a vote in the House Health and Human Services Committee, two days after the sponsor asked to postpone a vote on it (HB 1159).
 And for a bit of levity, University of Miami basketball coach Jim Larrañaga, AP Coach of the Year, will be on hand for pictures around the Capitol. He is hosted by Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah, and Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens.

-Katie Sanders, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau