Another fine Jebacy. "Florida, where tempers flared at a town hall meeting on health care reform Thursday, has more at stake than most states in the debate over covering the uninsured."
New data from the Census Bureau shows that among Floridians younger than 65, which is the age where Medicare kicks in, one in four lacks health insurance."Florida ranks No. 3 in percentage of uninsured people".
That puts Florida No. 3 on the list of states with the highest percentage of the uninsured. The total here: 3.7 million people, or 24.9 percent.
"The crush of uninsured young adults [in Florida and nationally] could have major implications for health-care reform, said Paul Duncan, a professor at the University of Florida, and one of the authors of a 2004 survey that analyzed health insurance in the state."
One of the principles of insurance is that people who don't use services regularly — such as the young, who use them mostly for urgent care — keep premiums constant, and in effect subsidize lower costs for older and chronic users of those services."Young workers come up short on health care, 'critically at risk'".
Under the reform bills in Congress, Medicaid would be expanded to include childless adults who have incomes less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level — or about $14,400 a year; children could remain dependents until age 26; premiums would be capped; and insurers wouldn't be able to exclude people or charge more if they have pre-existing conditions such as asthma or diabetes.
Nearly 2 million Floridians would gain coverage under the House's proposed Health Choices Act by 2013, according to Families USA, a consumer-advocate group.
Meantime, our deluded "governor promotes his Cover Florida health care initiative as a 'national model' but only 3,757 people have signed up." "Crist touts his health plan".
Meek challenges Crist on his "missteps"
"Crist's potential Democratic rival for the U.S. Senate attacked him today for his handling of federal stimulus aid, saying the governor's missteps have delayed potential relief for thousands of unemployed Floridians." "Meek attacks Crist over Florida's stimulus delays". See also "Crist, Florida assailed for poor job with economic stimulus money".
"[A] key congressional committee says Florida also ranks last when it comes to actually spending federal highway stimulus money it does receive."
In a letter sent Thursday, U.S. Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minnesota, chided Crist for failing to spend "quickly, efficiently, and in harmony with job creating purposes of the Act.''"Gov. Charlie Crist under pressure as stimulus spending lags".
Oberstar, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, noted that Florida had spent 2 percent of the $1.35 billion allocated for highway projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed in March.
Is Wall Street "Piggishness" reflected in Florida?
"In their bids to get electric rates increased next year, two of the state's top electric companies said Monday that it's not in the public's interest for them to disclose how much they pay their top executives, according to documents filed with state utility regulators."
Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy argue that disclosing how much they pay their executives in salaries, stock and bonuses is not necessary for the Public Service Commission to determine whether to allow it to raise rates by as much as 31 percent starting next year."Electric utilities keep top salaries top secret".
But PSC staff argues otherwise, noting that the salary data is essential to the regulators' ability to ``evaluate the appropriateness of the employee compensation to be included in the rate base.''
FPL wants permission to increase its base rates by $12.40 a month starting Jan. 1, a 31 percent increase in the base rate. FPL estimates that lower fuel costs will offset the rate hike so that customer bills will decline in the short term.
But state regulators say they want to know how much the companies are paying their top employees to determine whether customers are picking up too much of the tab.
Commissioner Nancy Argenziano asked the staff to find out how many employees at the companies get paid more than $165,000 a year. In a letter last week to PSC Chairman Matthew Carter, Argenziano said it was the obligation of regulators to make sure that the "piggishness'' of Wall Street wasn't reflected in Florida.
"Jacksonville City Councilman Art Graham and Duval County School Board member Stan Jordan indicated Monday they will run in a special election to replace the late state Sen. Jim King, but another potential candidate said he will stay out of the race. ... They join two other Republicans, former House Speaker John Thrasher and Ponte Vedra Beach businessman Dan Quiggle, in the shortened campaign in Senate District 8, which includes parts of Volusia and Flagler counties." "Candidates lining up to fill King's state Senate seat".
"State economists are updating their estimate of Florida's general revenue." "Fla. economists updating revenue estimate".
"Crist and the Florida Cabinet are preparing to vote on Progress Energy's bid to build a nuclear power plant in Levy County." "Crist, Cabinet to decide on new nuclear plant".
Entrepreneurs in action
"For a reminder that disasters are big opportunities for profit, there is no place like Florida." "Lucrative disaster-claim-paperwork contracts spawn big-money battle".
Florida Tea Baggers with nuthin' to do
"Across the country, protesters angry about health-care reform are disrupting town-hall meetings conducted by members of Congress — but in Central Florida, most won't get the chance."
"They have to come out of hiding and face the people and answer some questions," complained DeLand retiree Charles Schmitz. He called Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's office and was told he has no meetings scheduled."Orlando-area members of Congress shun town halls on health care".
Nelson's not the only one.
Of the 10 members of Congress representing Central Florida — including two U.S. senators — only two have scheduled town-hall meetings, and one of those will be by phone. A few others say they will have meetings sometime before the end of the August summer recess.
The The Orlando Sentinel editorial board writes:
we don't agree with those who would write off all the protesters as special-interest lackeys. Polls show many Americans are opposed to — or uncertain about — the approach to health-care reform that the White House and most Democrats in Congress are considering."Don't hide from voters".
At least some of the opposition to that reform is based on misinformation, like the whopper that the House plan would force the elderly who become ill to make plans to end their lives. Town meetings could provide a mutually beneficial forum for lawmakers to clear up such confusion for their constituents.
"Florida's major electric utilities clashed Monday with environmentalists over how high state regulators should set new power conservation and efficiency goals." "Florida Utilities, Activists Clash Over Conservation".
Martinez jumps ship
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Martinez's resignation is disappointing for a variety of reasons."
As a candidate four years ago, he waged an aggressive, no-holds-barred campaign against Bill McCollum in the primary and Betty Castor in the general election. It was one of the most bitter and divisive electoral campaigns in the state's recent history."Florida needs a senator who can hit ground running".
Those who worked hard for Mr. Martinez in that effort in 2004 have a right to feel let down. At a minimum, voters and campaign workers expect their candidate to complete the term of office.
"Martinez's abrupt resignation paints Gov. Charlie Crist into a tight political corner as he searches for a temporary replacement for the seat he himself hopes to win in 2010." "Crist has work cut out for him in choosing Martinez replacement". See also "Senator From Florida Needed: Martinez With a Twist".
Zell Corporation "balance"
One has to wonder if the The Sun-Sentinel editors are talking about the same Castor event the rest of us saw on YouTube, when they write that,
in Tampa, a town hall meeting turned into a melee as emotions on both sides of the debate burst forth into an ugly public display.The continue the "balanced reporting" with this doggerel: "Both sides have to rein in the rabid". See "The debate over health-care reform has taken an ugly turn at town hall meetings".
This was right-wingnutterry, pure and simple. Why can't the editors call a spade a spade?
Bill Cotterell: "State employees who have seen the value of their deferred-compensation accounts, along with their personal investments, dwindle in the past year are rightly concerned about the outlook for their retirement. It's bad enough to be worried about your job and everything else the economy has thrown at us, without wondering if the pension pot is running low. Short answer: No, it's not." "State's pension fund bent but didn't break".
New law makes it tougher to qualify for in-state university tuition rates
Hypertext links as political ads
"St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Scott Wagman will fight charges that his Internet ads violated state law - charges he says are an infringement of his First Amendment rights - rather than accept a settlement agreement with a small fine imposed by the Florida Elections Commission. The case concerns small ads - actually hypertext links - on Web sites such as Facebook or Google." "Candidate fighting Web ad charges".
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Florida's laws are stuck in 20th century technology and need some commonsense updating." "Ad rules due for a reboot".
Tampa City Council member, Mary Mulhern writes this in the The Saint Petersburg Times this morning:
Our citizens are ready for change. Recent polls show a majority of Americans want to end the embargo, and a majority of Miami Cubans want to end travel restrictions. I urge U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez to listen to their constituents, send a clear signal to the president, and sign on to the Senate and House bills ending travel restrictions."Time is right for opening to Cuba".
Screwing teachers (again)
"'It might be legal but it's wrong:' Laid-off Florida teachers passed over as jobs reopen". See also "Schools pass over laid-off teachers when jobs open up".
Not so "Bright"
"The popular Bright Futures scholarship program is now worth less and carries more financial penalties than ever before, prompting significant concerns among Florida university officials about the impact to students -- particularly those from lower-income families." "Florida college students pay price for changes to Bright Futures scholarships".