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Florida looks to double size of medical marijuana industry within next 6 months

Florida looks to double size of medical marijuana industry within next 6 months

Florida could move forward with 22 additional licenses for medical marijuana operators, nearly doubling the size of the state's legal cannabis industry, within the next six months. The state Office of Medical Marijuana Use Director Christopher Kimball offered the tentative timeline after giving a presentation last week about the medical marijuana program to the House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee. [Source: News Service of Florida]

'Insurance godmothers' are signing Florida Latinos up for Obamacare

About 3.4 million Hispanics are signed up with insurance through the health law. Florida leads enrollment with more than 3.2 million consumers selecting a plan during last year’s enrollment period from November 2022 to January. Miami-Dade is the county with the most people enrolled, with about 750,000 consumers, or more than one-fourth of the total population. Florida is also one of 10 states that has resisted expanding Medicaid coverage under a provision of the health law. [Source: AP]

Decision expected soon about Florida's plan to import prescription drugs

Federal officials are expected to decide by Jan. 5 whether to approve a Florida plan to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, state Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Jason Weida told a House panel Thursday. Weida said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will approve the plan, which the state has been pursuing since 2019. “They have set up a number of hoops,” Weida told the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. “We have jumped through them all.” [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida reports 8,070 COVID-linked deaths in 2023; far less than previous years

A reported 92,553 Florida resident deaths have been linked to COVID-19 since the pandemic started in 2020, including 8,070 this year, according to data posted Friday on the Florida Department of Health website. This year’s total is far lower than during the past three years. The state had a reported 23,342 deaths in 2020; 39,861 deaths in 2021; and 21,280 deaths in 2022, according to the data. [Source: Health News Florida]

State halts work on $154 million Medicaid IT contract

The administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis is going to delay work on a $154 million information technology contract that is the central part of an overhaul of the state’s Medicaid management information system. The decision was made by the Florida Health Care Connections (FX) Executive Steering Committee. The body voted unanimously last week to halt for at least 12 months work on its contract with Gainwell Technologies LLC for “core” services and to complete work on two other IT-related contracts by December 2024. [Source: Florida Politics]


› Lawmaker with Parkinson's helps lead charge in creating panel to fight the illness
With a nod to a colleague struggling with an aggressive form of Parkinson's disease, members of the House saved, for likely the last vote of the year, a bill they hope may one day help stomp out the debilitating illness. The bill is named for Democratic Virginia Rep. Jennifer Wexton, who has the disease, and Republican Florida Rep. Gus Bilirakis' brother, who passed away in May after a long battle with it.

› Florida's Senate president on health, education, and more ahead of the legislative session
With Florida’s 2024 legislative session just a few weeks away, lawmakers will be tasked to address pressing issues affecting Floridians. Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, spoke about some of these issues Friday with Tom Hudson on The Florida Roundup. She said she’s focused on a package of proposals called Live Healthy, which promises to “grow Florida’s health care workforce, increase access, and incentivize innovation.”

› A doctor comes home to Immokalee and redefines her community's health care
Dr. Kristen Dimas, a native of the small migrant community of Immokalee, east of Naples, has come full circle after finding herself at the intersection of opportunity and purpose. "They say that Immokalee is Indian for ‘my home,' and it truly is my home," Dimas said. "This is the place that I grew up. I've lived my whole life here until I went to college in Tallahassee. And then when I was in Tallahassee, I really was able to see Immokalee for what it was. I had never left before.”

› Tampa General receives record donation for children’s hospital
Tampa General Hospital on Friday announced it has received a “transformational” record donation to its children’s hospital from philanthropist couple Pam and Les Muma. At the request of the Mumas, the hospital declined to reveal the amount of the gift but stated it was the largest in Tampa General’s history and the largest ever made to any Tampa Bay region children’s hospital.