Wednesday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today.
In the battle against Medicare fraud, South Florida seniors have blown the whistle — more than 54,000 times. That's how many calls South Florida's Medicare recipients placed to a special hotline for reporting suspicious bills in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties from 2007 through September. A federal report Tuesday spelled out the results of the South Florida calls: $58.6 million in overpayments recovered, $10.7 million in questionable bills not paid, $3 million seized from fraudulent firms, 103 companies booted from Medicare, 106 companies flagged for extra scrutiny, 835 fraud investigations started, and 30 cases referred for prosecution. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
A roundup of the latest stories out of Tallahassee:
» Prison privatization dies in Senate 21-19
» Corporate income tax cut nears approval
» Fla. Senate panel votes down ethics bill
» Lawmakers seek to expand bath-salt ban
» Florida legislators yearn to rewrite poet laureate law
Relatively common practices like slipping friends an extra appetizer or comping drinks cost companies as much as $80 billion annually and do little to improve customer loyalty, according to a new survey by researchers at Florida State University. Two thirds of service industry employees surveyed admitted to "sweethearting," which Michael Brady, one of the authors of the study, says extends far beyond rewarding loyal customers. [Source: US News & World Report]
Could Delaware, that plain-Jane, highway-rest-stop-sized sliver of the map, secretly have the most high-tech economy of any U.S. state? Judging by one important measure, it just might. Every two years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) releases a wide-ranging assessment of America's science and technology sector, including a state-by-state breakdown of everything from patents issued to engineers employed. [Source: The Atlantic]
Orlando-based Barnie's Coffee & Tea helped launch the modern coffeehouse-cafe concept 30 years ago. But after growing to more than 100 outlets, the chain fell victim to increased competition and a few strategic stumbles. Now down to a handful of outlets close to home, the company is remaking itself as Barnie's CoffeeKitchen, adding more seating, gourmet dishes and a renewed focus on high-quality java.
Barnie's Coffee & Tea, founded in 1980, has rebranded as Barnie's CoffeeKitchen and gone smaller after a series of setbacks.
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Regulators fault maintenance at Turkey Point nuclear plant
Florida Power & Light Co. has allegedly failed to properly maintain its Turkey Point nuclear plant's on-site emergency response facility, resulting in apparent violations, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said today. The issue is considered of low to moderate safety significance, the NRC said.
› Boca teen wins coveted national service award
These teens are out to make a difference. They champion causes, raise money and, if all goes according to plan, inspire others to become role models. "If we help one family at a time, we can save the world," said Samantha Kerker, a Boca Raton teenager who is one of two statewide winners of the 2012 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
› Tax breaks try to woo company's 2,240 jobs to Titusville
State, county and local officials are combining forces to attract an aerospace company to Titusville to develop rocket propulsion systems. The company said its project would create 2,240 jobs, including 883 spinoff jobs at other businesses, for the economically struggling community.
› Orlando theme parks fill winter lull with concert series
During the next six weeks, more than 300,000 concertgoers in Central Florida will be able to see big-name acts in a variety of music genres. But they won't be going to the usual concert venues such as the Amway Center or UCF Arena, House of Blues or the Hard Rock. They will be going to the theme parks.
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