Recent Stories from Billy Manes
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services crunched some numbers and stuck them in an envelope addressed to Florida Medicaid Director at the Agency for Health Care Administration Justin Senior. “We have preliminarily concluded that that 2015-2016 funding should be at approximately $1 billion … to maintain stability while the system transitions,” CMS Director Vikki Wachino wrote, according to the Tampa Bay Times. What’s being proffered here is that the state basically needs to expand its Medicaid program because the feds are about to phase the LIP program out. In future budgets, CMS says, the state will need to whittle its previous experience with $2.2 billion in LIP funds down to something more reasonable, like $600 million. This …
Do you remember that time in 2013 when a slightly bedraggled Gov. Rick Scott, seemingly aiming for that weird gut of compassion, went onto television to say that he couldn’t possibly refuse Medicaid expansion for all of the ailing people in the state? It turns out that his whole dance of populism was tied to waiver negotiations with the feds. He quickly changed camps when he got his way. Now it’s even worse. All of the sudden, it’s Medicaid’s fault for being a broken system that has grown in cost at three times the rate of state revenues. All the sudden it’s all about the poor people increasingly going to the emergency room for service. And, let it be noted …
On March 24, representatives from the Florida Institute for Reform and Empowerment and the Alliance for a Just Society released a healthcare study and, well, the news wasn’t good. In addition to the nearly one million people who fall into the gap separating the present anemic Medicaid system in Florida and the federal Affordable Care Act exchange that’s been around for five years, there are other issues: access to doctors for minority communities, inexperience in minority communities with using insurance, language barriers and website issues. Add the failure to expand Medicaid, a failure championed by the Florida Legislature and its governor, and you have a huge mess. A 10-state comparison showed that the states with Medicaid expansion were improving the breadth of coverage among their populations. States like Florida are lagging, by seeming political intention.
Earlier this week, Florida once again caught the nation’s collectively rolling eyes when it came to light that Gov. Rick Scott had allegedly forbidden state staffers from invoking the terms that hinted at the scientific reality of climate change, according to a report by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting that was published in the Miami Herald.
Maybe it shouldn’t seem like such a big deal, but when former Florida Department of Law Enforcement commissioner Gerald Bailey, a well-respected employee of the state, was kicked aside for a yes-person who also happened to be a personal assistant to the state’s first couple, it was a big deal. Especially a big deal when the governor and his whole cabinet square-danced over whether or not his firing was fair before realizing that there is no sense in arguing with Scott. What’s done is done!
While we all sit on our hands and wait to see if either the legislature or the general-election voting public in 2016 will actually legalize medicinal marijuana, the wayward weaving of the already approved Charlotte’s Web strain of cannabis – the legislature approved the low-THC for children in 2014 – continues to be a source of regulatory confusion. At issue, beyond the fact that only five nurseries will be allowed to cultivate and dispense the medicine in Florida, is the fact that the law doesn’t mitigate the differences between state and federal laws on illegal drugs. Last week, according to political website Saint Petersblog, Director of the Office of Compassionate Use Patricia Nelson negotiated for a mind-numbing 25 hours with …
Just like in every low-budget horror movie involving lobbyists walking into the summer-camp woods, it wasn’t exactly unexpected that the announcement of the 2016 Orange County Charter Review Commission would be full of screams and eye-rolls. As both the Weekly and Sentinel reported extensively, the county commission was already in trouble with State Attorney Jeff Ashton after an investigation found members guilty of destroying public records during so-called textgate.
Last week, the Tampa Bay Times published a scathing indictment of Governor Rick Scott and his handling of Florida Department of Law Enforcement commissioner Gerald Bailey’s so-called resignation. It’s no secret that the FDLE is not Scott’s best friend in general, especially considering the long list of Scott scandals that the agency is assigned to investigate. Most recently, Scott has been accused – with evidence – of using private email accounts to conduct public business. That, of course, is something that the FDLE has been investigating.
It has been said that the “Charlotte’s Web” bill that was passed last session in order to aid folks with seizures was a bit of a Trojan Horse. Placed up against the John Morgan-backed Amendment 2 that would have written actual medical marijuana into laws, it read like a compromise – an intentional compromise that would allow legislative conservatives to reject medical marijuana while simultaneously supporting marijuana-lite.
Long before the advent of “#floridaman” or even the super-secret negotiations that brought us Walt Disney World, Florida was already a hotbed for unscrupulous behaviors and negotiations, all gelling into the sort of primordial ooze that lines the Everglades and/or the bedpans of the state’s notorious good ol’ boy network. 2014 brought us our own share of onerous governmental embarrassments, all of which are worthy of scrutiny.