February 24, 2021
500,000 Floridians could get free health insurance as special enrollment begins

Florida Trend Health Care

500,000 Floridians could get free health insurance as special enrollment begins

| 2/16/2021

500,000 Floridians could get free health insurance as special enrollment begins

Floridians can now sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. President Joe Biden announced the three-month special enrollment period during his first days in office and has included $50 million to promote enrollment and support counselors who will help people navigate the sign-up process. Late last year, 2.1 million people in Florida signed up during the traditional enrollment period. But another nearly 2 million residents remain uninsured and eligible for subsidized health care coverage. [Source: Health News Florida]

Florida continues to outpace rest of country with new mutant COVID-19 cases

Florida continues to lead the nation in the number of documented COVID-19 variant cases tied to the U.K. with nearly 380 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now with 379 documented cases, the Sunshine State has twice as many U.K. variant cases as California, which has 189 as of Sunday night, according to the CDC database. Texas has 49 cases, both Illinois and North Carolina have 23 cases each and Maryland has documented 22. [Source: Click Orlando]

Florida bill would protect hospitals from COVID-19 lawsuits

Florida health care providers would be protected from lawsuits claiming their actions led to illness or death caused by the coronavirus under a bill approved by a Senate committee Wednesday. Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes said his bill is particularly important because of a lack of personal protective equipment and availability of coronavirus tests in the early days of the pandemic as hospitals and long-term care facilities struggled to keep workers and patients safe. [Source: Click Orlando]

Florida health insurers plan to cover COVID vaccinations at doctors' offices

Audrey Brown heads the Florida Association of Health Plans. In an email to WLRN, she wrote that Medicare recipients are covered. And once younger people are eligible, the state’s commercial health insurers and Medicaid managed care plans will pay for their members’ vaccinations. But still, consumer advocates say they’re worried about surprise vaccine bills that could reach patients, including uninsured people, as happened with coronavirus testing earlier in the pandemic. [Source: WMFE]

Florida lawmakers open debate over staffing in nursing homes

The coronavirus pandemic has pulled at the seams of Florida’s nursing homes — requiring more hands-on work from an industry already hit with a staffing shortage. Still, Louise Merrick, administrator of Gulf Shore Care Center, a nursing home in Pinellas Park, decided not to take advantage of a state emergency order allowing facilities to hire less-trained “personal care attendants” to help with basic duties. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]


› Bayfront Health names new chief medical, nursing officers
Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, the city’s oldest and largest hospital, announced two interim leaders as permanent on Monday. Dr. Trina Espinola, who has been at Bayfront since 1993, is now the hospital’s chief medical officer. Lorraine Parker, who came to the hospital when it was purchased by Orlando Health in October, is chief nursing officer. Both had already been working in those respective roles, Bayfront said in a news release.

› Southwest Floridians struggle with medical bills during pandemic
A professor of Social Work at Florida Gulf Coast University, Tom Felke says many are struggling with medical bills during the pandemic. "A lot of individuals - particularly those living in poverty - have to decide what are their priorities in their everyday living," says Felke. He says they often think to themselves: "'Am I forced to make a choice between paying my rent or my mortgage? Maybe a car payment or car repair? Or child care or medical bills.'"

› Jax Spine & Pain Centers to break ground on $25 million facility
UF Health and Jax Spine & Pain Centers announced a Feb. 17 groundbreaking for a $25 million multispecialty surgery center and medical office building. The three-story, 54,000-square-foot facility is planned at 5191 First Coast Technical Parkway at northeast Butler and Kernan boulevards, according to a Feb. 12 news release. The project is expected to be completed in spring 2022. It is near the University of North Florida.

› Tampa General Hospital, Broward Health challenge state over NICU rules
Two major hospitals are challenging new rules drawn up by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration after state lawmakers stripped away regulations that limited what types of services hospitals could offer. One of the hospitals challenging the rules - Broward Health Medical Center - is part of the North Broward Hospital District, which decided this week to hire Shane Strum, DeSantis’ chief of staff, as its CEO.

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