A tight budget year could mean health care spending cuts
The havoc of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has strained health-care providers across the state, might not be enough to spare hospitals and nursing homes from Medicaid spending cuts in the coming year. Top Republican leaders in the Florida House and Senate acknowledged Thursday a chance that lawmakers could make health-care cuts as they struggle to craft a balanced budget amid the economic wreckage caused by the coronavirus. “So, I would say that everything is on the table,” Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, said when asked about reducing Medicaid payment rates for hospitals and nursing homes. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Scrutiny continues over pop-up vaccine sites
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is facing bipartisan accusations of playing politics with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Southwest Florida. The criticism stems from DeSantis’ recent selection of COVID-19 vaccine pop-up clinic sites in Charlotte and Manatee counties. The Manatee site, in upscale Lakewood Ranch, has received much of the focus. A clinic in the Kings Gate community of Port Charlotte is also under scrutiny. [Source: Health News Florida]
Guest column: Invest in children’s dental health
Oral health is essential to a child’s overall health and long-term well-being, confidence, and success. Yet too many families in Florida face challenges in accessing dental care and maintaining good routine oral care. This is an ongoing problem that has only gotten worse amidst the pandemic, as families experience major shifts in their employment, routines and stress levels. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 50 percent of dentists saw an increase in patients with chipped or cracked teeth due to clenching and grinding; 30 percent of dentists saw an increase in gum disease; and more than 25 percent saw an increase in cavities. [Source: Florida Times-Union]
Florida VA healthcare systems lead nation in vaccinating veterans
Four of Florida’s veterans healthcare systems are leading the nation in administering the most first- and second-dose coronavirus vaccinations to military veterans. Since mid-December, the state’s six veteran healthcare systems have been administering vaccines in alignment with the federal guidelines, said Mary Kay Rutan, spokeswoman for the Florida VA network. They started with healthcare workers, in-patient veterans and later outpatients who were 75 and older. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
In a bipartisan vote, a House panel last week agreed to move forward with a bill that would make it harder to sue nursing homes, hospitals and physicians because of alleged negligence related to COVID-19. Members of the House Health & Human Services Committee voted 17-3 to introduce a proposal (PCB HHS 21-01) for the 2021 legislative session, which will begin March 2. The move was a first step in delivering on the Republican-led Legislature’s priority of shielding health-care providers from COVID-19 lawsuits. [Source: News Service of Florida]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› New inpatient rehab hospital names CEO [Business Observer]
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of North Tampa, a 50-bed inpatient rehabilitation facility under construction in Lutz, has named Jeff Alexander CEO. In his new position, Alexander will oversee all patient care. He joins the North Tampa facility from Encompass Health’s rehabilitation hospital in Spring Hill, where he also worked as CEO for four years. Prior to Spring Hill, Alexander led a 34-bed, long-term acute care hospital in Kansas City, Mo., according to a statement.
› Medical marijuana: Wrangling over smokable pot regulations [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Members of the Joint Committee on Medical Marijuana met last week to begin developing the practice standards that Florida-licensed physicians must follow when ordering smokable pot. And they weren’t happy. The panel is composed of members of the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine. Joint committee member Jorge Lopez, a physician from Maitland, said smoking is toxic and that the medical boards shouldn’t be in a position of condoning the behavior.
› Ascension St. Vincent's Riverside chosen for Watchman FLX clinical trial [Florida Trend]
Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside has been chosen to participate in a new clinical trial for the Watchman FLX, a minimally invasive procedure for patients with atrial fibrillation. Dr. Saumil Oza, chief of cardiology at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Jacksonville, says the risk of stroke increases 500% for patients with afib. In the past, those patients have been put on anticoagulants, or blood thinners, to decrease the risk of developing blood clots that can get loose and cut off the blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke. For many patients, however, blood thinners are a problem.
› Tampa General Hospital, USF Health are the first in florida to use innovative procedure for central sleep apnea patients [Florida Trend]
As part of its vision to be the safest and most innovative academic health system in America, Tampa General Hospital and USF Health are the first in Florida to use a ground-breaking procedure for the treatment of central sleep apnea. In this new approach, the cardiologist/electrophysiologist implants a pacemaker-like device under the skin in the patient's chest with the goal of improving a patient's breathing during sleep.