Legislative Connection

DOH Again Faces Tough Questions about Children’s Health

Standing before a panel of senators from the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, Department of Health (DOH) Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Tschetter faced probing questions about the agency’s treatment of special-needs and medically needy children. Thousands of children have been screened out of Children’s Medical Services Network (CMS Network), the state’s collection of programs for children with the most severe medical issues, into less expensive (for the state) Medicaid managed care. At the hearing, Tschetter was unable to answer exactly how many children had been screened out of the program, although the DOH presentation to the committee made...

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Back to the Future for Committee Week 1

Following two special sessions that stretched the 2015 legislative session well into summer, legislators are back to the job of lawmaking. No time travel in a suped-up DeLorean was required.  Legislators had used their authority provided by the Florida Constitution, and acquiescence of the Governor, to schedule the 2016 session for January instead of March.  Committee weeks in advance have already begun.  It gives Tallahassee the fatigued look and feel of a year-round legislature. But this go-around isn’t shaping up to be any easier than the last one.  The testiness of the recent health care fight still casts a shadow...

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Special Session Ends. Preparations Underway for Early Next Session

Complementing the never-ending heat in Tallahassee is the feeling that we have a year-round Legislature in town.  The reason? In 2015, it mostly is a year-round Legislature.  Special Session ended on Friday, June 19.  Committee hearings for the upcoming session start the week of September 16, about 80 days away. Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday signed the FY 2015-16 budget of $78.2 billion only four days after it was presented to him, used his line item veto power to the tune of $461 million, and appeared to set the stage for renewed conflict with the Florida Senate in the process....

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Special Session – At the Halfway Mark

State Budget Conferences: Differences to Watch Late last week, five days into Special Session, legislative leadership agreed on the overall revenue allocations, triggering the start of budget negotiation conferences. These began on Saturday morning, continued throughout the weekend, and into Monday and Tuesday. The Children’s Campaign capitol team led by Colleen Mackin walked the halls, worked issues, and kept its eyes on the process. Budget conferences separate line items by constitutional offices and executive branch departments and their related functions across the state. The process allows committee appointees from each Chamber to iron out differences in a choreographed series of...

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Round Two: What’s Next In Special Session?

It’s anyone’s guess. Next week, the House and the Senate will return to Tallahassee to pass a state budget. Bills have already been filed, with the Senate focusing on a range of options to expand the number of insured Floridians while the House has proposed bills addressing nurse practitioner prescribing ability, state employee health insurance, sales tax exemptions, and health care regulations. The Children’s Campaign is fully reviewing both appropriation packages and will provide more detailed information as the process continues. Legislative work has continued throughout the break. Bills have been presented to the Governor and signed into law, the...

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Some Children’s Bills Survive, Some Die

As reported in multiple media outlets, the contentious debate between the Chambers about Medicaid expansion and Low Income Pool (LIP) funding imploded. A budget has not been passed, and multiple important bills were left to die. A Special Session of the Legislature is proposed to convene on June 1, ostensibly enough time to finalize a budget before the June 30th deadline, but at present the gulf that exists is wide and deep. The Children’s Campaign will keep you advised on new developments in the ongoing budget saga. The pall cast by the Medicaid expansion fight can be felt across issues,...

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Child Welfare: More to Know and More to Fix

The More You Know” is a series of public service ads that have aired on NBC since 1989. The premise is simple – knowledge is power. The more the public knows about an issue, the greater likelihood of personal engagement, better decision-making, and making a difference. Florida’s child welfare system would be better off if making a similar and transforming commitment.  Consider the reasons for doing it differently: Less than 10%   ̶  only one out of 13   ̶  Critical Incident Rapid Response Team (CIRRT) reports have been posted to the child fatality website for 2015. Report findings are...

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Children and Seniors Take the Capitol

It was a very interesting week at the capitol in regards to “Awareness Days”. On Tuesday, a few hundred children – who appeared to outnumber the adults – gathered in the courtyard for Children’s Day.  On Wednesday, a vastly greater number of older citizens packed the same bricked area for Seniors Day. Children’s Day provided beautiful photo ops: smiling kids straining to see the historic capitol, booths of service providers, and vibrant children’s handprints hanging inside from the rotunda. Seniors Day brought covered meters restricting parking for blocks, offsite shuttles delivering large numbers of the voting public attending, and coordinated...

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Child Abuse Death Review Finds Systemic Issues

On Thursday, Mike Carroll, Secretary of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) addressed the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs committee about recent child abuse deaths. The presentation focused on the recent tragic death of a 3 year-old Seminole Indian boy. In his short life, the young boy had multiple interactions with the child welfare system. He had several placements, and numerous calls to the Abuse Hotline on his behalf.  In his presentation, Secretary Carroll said that the Critical Incident Rapid Response Team (CIRRT) report would show that there were signs that this child was being physically abused, but...

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Carrot, Stick, Unequal Justice

An old adage suggests two alternatives exist to motivate change depending on the circumstances – sometimes use a carrot and sometimes a stick. Civil citation allows juveniles to receive a warning, diversion program or other option rather than being arrested for a misdemeanor offense. Last year 13,000 Florida juveniles did not have the option of being issued a civil citation. This was based solely on their place of residence as not all communities participate in the program. Senator Garcia (R-Hialeah) filed SB 378 that attempted to expand civil citation with a mandate – the “stick”. The bill would have changed...

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