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Tallahassee Health Care Recap: Surgeon General’s Out, New Medical Marijuana And Abortion Regulations

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Florida Surgeon John Armstrong.

Florida lawmakers wrapped up their 2016 annual session last week, and health care was again a big talker. 

The Senate failed to confirm Surgeon General John Armstrong, one of Gov. Rick Scott’s top appointees. Armstrong, who also served as the Secretary of the Florida Department of Health, is the first agency director not confirmed by the Senate since the mid-1990s.

Margie Menzel is a reporter in Tallahassee with the News Service of Florida, and she told Health News Florida’s Mary Shedden of Health News Florida that several lingering problems led to Armstrong’s downfall.

Why Armstrong is out:

The most devastating questioning for Armstrong came from a supporter, Sen. Don Gaetz, former Senate president and widely regarded as someone who does their homework. His concern was the county health departments had seen a plummet of the number of people they were serving, 200,000 less patients than 2012.

What is in the bills Gov. Rick Scott is considering dealing with abortion?

They would basically bar public funding for organizations associated with abortion clinics and increase the regulations on those clinics. For instance, the clinics would have to have closer relationships with hospitals.

What did lawmakers do in their support for cannabis in the medical industry?

FIrst, under the bill, terminally ill patients would have access to marijuana. It would legalize full strength pot for the first time in the state, if signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, and that’s a big if. It was a way for lawmakers to express their frustration with a 2014 law they passed, which is not in effect for anyone who needs it. And that’s a low THC law for patients, including children with severe epilepsy.

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WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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Abe Aboraya

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