"A Florida legislative panel Friday rejected millions in federal money designed to help remove patients from nursing homes and provide them with similar care in their own homes."
The panel turned down a $2.1 million federal grant that would have fully paid for administrative costs to pave the way for Florida to receive an additional $35.7 million in federal Medicaid funding. Those dollars would pay for nursing home diversions of disabled and elderly patients over the next five years."Florida panel rejects federal funds for elderly". See also "Legislature rejects federal grant money again" and "Fla. lawmakers reject federal grant for returning patients home from nursing homes".
The money was offered this year to Florida and 12 other states as part of the federal health care overhaul law that Florida is challenging in court. They were invited to join 29 states and the District of Columbia, which already participate in the Money Follows the Person demonstration program. ...
Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston had urged the panel to accept the grant, which was expected to result in about 1,700 nursing home transfers.
The Week in Review
"The Week in Review for June 20-June 24".
"On this issue there's no use pretending"
Randy Schultz: "Last week, state legislators began pretending that they care what the voters think about how Floridians will vote for Congress and the Legislature in 2012."
Public hearings on redistricting, which happen every 10 years when the Legislature draws new congressional and legislative districts, started Monday. Members can't comment or ask questions, but that's just as well. Legislators aren't even showing proposed maps, and they will care only about themselves when drawing those maps next year."'Greatest good fortune' for politicians is bad luck for voters".
We try to avoid cynicism in this column, but on this issue there's no use pretending. Look back at 1992 and 2002.
Scott to fight "energy efficiency rules"
"Scott wants to reduce energy efficiency rules and push cost-effective renewables".
South Floridians flop
"The House rejected separate attempts led by two South Florida members on Friday on opposite sides of a growing debate over the Libya air war." "House rejects Floridians on Libya".
Drill! Baby Drill!
"Senate President Mike Haridopolos joined the governor Friday in calling for a new state energy policy that will open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida's coast, new nuclear power and increased investment in renewable energy." "Haridopolos joins Gov. Rick Scott in calling for energy policy allowing Florida offshore drilling".
"Fire rangers insulted by pension law"
"Fire rangers insulted by pension law (with video)". Meanwhile, "Fallen Firefighter Honored, Laid To Rest".
"It's ironic ..."
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "State lawmakers created the Florida Commission on Capital Cases in 1997 to 'review the administration of justice' in death-penalty cases. But late in this year's legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill, with little deliberation, that eliminated the commission to save $400,000 a year. Earlier this month, Scott signed the bill into law."
It's ironic that lawmakers would shut down this judicial panel to save $400,000, when they came close to approving a plan to split the Supreme Court that might have cost at least $17 million."Chronic problems with capital punishment in Florida argue for maintaining oversight".
As if a city full of GOPers wasn't bad enuf'
"Along with the crowds, Tampa 2012 GOP convention planners prepare for the possibility of a hurricane".
"The latest lawsuit"
Poor Ricky, "even after he signs a bill into law or issues an executive order, Scott is still finding roadblocks from opposition groups looking to thwart his policies through lawsuits. The latest lawsuit came Monday when the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, filed suit over the pension reform bill Scott signed into law last month. The law requires the 655,000 state workers and other government employee members of the Florida Retirement System, about half of whom are school district employees, to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to their pensions." "Democrats Turn to Courts to Halt Florida GOP’s Agenda".
"Biotech firm plans to add 175 high-paid jobs".
Ricky and the Legislature on the same page
"Although he vetoed a record $615 million in spending items in the state budget bill, Gov. Rick Scott has not aggressively used his veto power over other legislation." "Gov. Rick Scott isn't liberal when it comes to vetoes". See also "Scott signs major bills dealing with corporate taxes, abortion and rulemaking".
As Scott's team collapses, he picks "quintessential Tallahassee insider"
"Gov. Rick Scott continued a weeklong shakeup in his office on Friday, naming Stephen R. MacNamara his new chief of staff. ... the move signals an abrupt change for a governor who proudly wears the badge of political outsider: MacNamara is the quintessential Tallahassee insider." "Gov. Scott picks Tallahassee insider MacNamara as chief of staff". See also "Changes at the top of Scott administration made official", "Haridopolos aide MacNamara gets tapped for Scott chief of staff", "Gov. Scott names insider as new chief-of-staff" and "Gov. Rick Scott names Haridopolos staffer as new chief of staff".
"Your personal information is for sale"
"The State of Florida made nearly $63 million in the last fiscal year by selling Floridians drivers license data, according to WPTV.com. The sales brought in $62.9 million, mostly from companies buying the data to verify customers' personal information such as addresses, according to the report." "Report: State made $63M from sales of driver license data". See also "Florida made $62 million by selling Florida drivers' license information" ("Few Florida citizens realize it, but your personal information is for sale.")
Jax, of course
"Five Republican presidential contenders took part in a National Right to Life Convention forum this morning in Jacksonville. Only two (Herman Cain and Rick Santorum) appeared in person, while the other three (Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty) literally phoned it in — appearing at the panel via Skype." "Pawlenty, Bachmann, Cain, Santorum, Paul all take part in Jacksonville Right to Life Convention".
The best they could do
"State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City and Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, issued statements Friday responding to Democratic leader Nan Rich’s letter calling for the federal government to reject proposed changes to the state’s Medicaid program." "Negron, Gardiner respond to Rich’s criticism of Medicaid overhaul".
"Mercer Health & Benefits edges sole competitor for the contract to help the state overhaul the $22 billion Medicaid program." "AHCA signs $2 million Medicaid contract".
"Rick Scott is the Republican brand in Florida"
"Scott is re-launching his administration after six months, shedding his coterie of "outsiders" in favor of old hands in the Capitol in hopes he can reposition himself with voters."
Adviser Mary Anne Carter, the Tennessee lawyer who headed up Scott's Conservatives for Patients' Rights group that waged war against federal health-care reform and was the administration's single biggest advocate of scrapping high-speed rail, is gone. So is the chief of staff."Florida is a must-win state for the GOP to re-take the White House. And right now, what should be a top asset – a sitting governor – is radioactive."
Scott's vitriolic communications team -- known for its combative approach and quarreling into the late hours with reporters on Twitter -- is getting a shake-up.
The re-boot is a necessity because even though Scott has delivered on many of his campaign pledges – drug-testing welfare recipients, blowing up Florida's growth-management regime, slashing government rules, selling the state planes, making state employees pay into their pensions – that hasn't yet translated into popular support.
And the presidential hopefuls set to barnstorm the nation's biggest swing state have noticed.
In 2007, John McCain and Mitt Romney were tripping over themselves to appear next to Gov. Charlie Crist and court his endorsement. None of the current presidential field has made such a gesture with Scott.
In fact, there is a media narrative right now that Scott could help re-elect the president he's spent three years bashing if he doesn't make himself less of a motivational tool for Democrats."Scott may be dragging down GOP presidential candidates".
A poll by the Democratic-affiliated PPP firm underscored that point last week. It found that 40 percent of registered voters said Scott's actions have made them less inclined to back the GOP presidential nominee. Worse, 45 percent of the critical independent voter voter group said they were less inclined to vote Republican because of Scott.
"Rick Scott is the Republican brand in Florida. He is the titular head of the party, and we will continue to tie Republicans to him quite easily," said Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. "He's shown no inclination of changing his governing style. And what we'll see next session will be more of the same."
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "Public employees good at squeezing a dollar".
Vetoes "bill was extreme and an invitation to scandal"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Even for a Legislature with open contempt for open government, this bill was extreme and an invitation to scandal. Scott did the right thing by rejecting a measure that could have served as a disastrous model for other public agencies." "Scott veto strikes a blow for openness".
"Difficult to say exactly when we lost our way"
Jackie Bueno Sousa: "It’s difficult to say exactly when we lost our way with regard to Jackson Memorial Hospital, but I’m pegging it to 1945." "For poor who need healthcare, focus on people, not the place".
"AARP of Florida called the veto 'baffling'"
"AARP of Florida and Meals on Wheels expressed dismay on Friday that Gov. Rick Scott has vetoed legislation that would have made it easier for volunteers to work with senior citizens by easing background screening requirements. ... Some organizations have complained that the screenings are too expensive, making it harder to attract volunteers. Other groups are trying to cover the cost of screenings for their volunteers, but say the financial burden is a strain during tough economic times." "Seniors' agencies upset over Scott's veto of bill to ease background checks".
"Hysteria over illegal immigration"
The Miami Herald editorial board: "The mysterious detention of U.S. citizen Christopher Zambrano as he was bicycling across the 79th Street Causeway recently is a perfect illustration of the damage done by the hysteria over illegal immigration and what happens when overzealous enforcers decide they can round up anyone who, in their expert opinion, so much as looks suspicious." "Bicycling while Hispanic".
Robaina gets "Christian Family Coalition" endorsement
"In their final debate before Tuesday’s election, the two men who want to be Miami-Dade’s mayor split over the future of domestic benefits." "Robaina, Gimenez debate for the last time". See also "Read the Christian Family Coalition endorsement of Julio Robaina". See also "Florida anti-abortion group endorses Robaina for Miami-Dade mayor".
"Developed countries dedicate significantly more time and resources ..."
School counselor Roslyn "Wagner has to register 600 freshmen in this high school in a suburb north of Miami for their next year's classes, and help another 200 12th grade students through college applications and graduation. There are recommendation letters to write, crises to handle. On the one hand, she must monitor low performing students; on the other, she must shepherd a bevy of meticulous students at this A-rated school vying to get into the nation's most prestigious colleges."
Researchers think these high counselor-to-student ratios are partially to blame for why more students don't go on to graduate from college. A recent study from Harvard University, for example, cited the nation's weak guidance counseling system as one of the reasons why more students aren't making a smoother transition into post-secondary education and careers, and noted that many other developed countries dedicate significantly more time and resources to counseling."As schools cut budgets, strains on counselors grow".