Posts Tagged ‘Department of Health’

As Broward sheriff shops for inmate healthcare, jail deaths haunt controversial contractor

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
For 14 years, the Broward Sheriff’s Office has paid Miami’s Armor Correctional Health Services hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to provide healthcare services for Broward‘s jail inmates. The money flowed despite accusations of substandard care, political intrigue and disturbing disclosures about at least 15 shocking, needless deaths. Today, BSO is again soliciting bids for a new multi-year contract and Armor wants the job.
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Before deaths, Gov. Rick Scott and Hollywood nursing home owner were chummy

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Before Gov. Rick Scott and South Florida healthcare mogul Dr. Jack Michel began pointing fingers at each other after elderly patients baked to death in Michel’s now-closed Hollywood nursing home, the two men were pals of a sort.
The post Before deaths, Gov. Rick Scott and Hollywood nursing home owner were chummy appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Saying voter intent ‘ignored’ on medical marijuana, Tampa Bay Times is just plain wrong

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

The Tampa Bay Times is just plain wrong about something, and it has stuck in my craw for nearly a week now.
Last Thursday, a Times headline read: “Voter intent on medical marijuana ignored.” Two days later, columnist John Romano followed suit with virtually the same narrative.
“Ignored?”
The clear inference of the editorial – notably, the word “ignored” – utterly fails to acknowledge reality.
“Ignored” clearly and purposefully claims the will of those who voted for the constitutional amendment has been intentionally disregarded or not considered. Whether you agree or disagree with the direction things are headed, clear evidence suggests Amendment 2 is NOT being ignored.
If the amendment were indeed being ignored, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) would have done nothing. Nada.
Instead, the DOH – absent legislative guidance and before rule hearings or public testimony – took a fairly dramatic stance expanding access to medical cannabis. The Department publicly stated physicians can now order medical marijuana for those patient conditions identified in the amendment.
That’s not ignoring. That’s the Department of Health taking a pretty bold step forward. (Applause?)
Typically, state agencies have limited authority to make such a determination. But in this case, the DOH action – taken within days of Amendment 2’s enactment – allows for the expansion of conditions precisely as directed under the newly passed amendment.
One could make the argument that this is the exact opposite of “ignored.”
Further, DOH did not (and does not) have authority to simply wipe away statutes put in place explicitly to handle an array of issues that deal with a substance that is (may I remind everyone) STILL illegal at the federal level.
The agency could not have, for example, issued an edict allowing anyone to grow marijuana or to sell it as that person saw fit. And they cannot just wipe away licensure requirements or

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Jeff Brandes files medical marijuana implementing bill

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Sen. Jeff Brandes wants a total overhaul of the state’s medical marijuana laws, filing legislation to repeal current law dealing with low-THC cannabis and replace it with a new regulatory system.
The St. Petersburg Republican filed the legislation (SB 614) Tuesday. A long-time critic of the current medical marijuana system, Brandes’ bill has the potential to open up the market beyond the seven dispensing organizations under law.
“The overwhelming support of Amendment 2 was a strong mandate that Floridians demand fundamental change to the way we regulate medical marijuana,” said Brandes in a statement. “The laws on the books today promote a state-sanctioned cartel system that limits competition, inhibits access, and results in higher prices for patients. This legislation outright repeals Florida’s defective law.”
Under the proposal, vertical integration of medical marijuana treatment centers is not required. Instead, the bill creates four different function licenses — cultivation, processing, transportation, and retail — that a medical marijuana treatment center can obtain. The bill allows treatment centers to get any combination of licenses. That’s a departure from current law, which requires dispensing organizations, similar to a medical marijuana treatment center, to grow, process and sell their own product.
“Florida should focus on what is best for patients,” he said. “The state today artificially limits the number of marijuana providers, promoting regional monopolies and standing in the way of the physician-patient relationship. This legislation removes those barriers, and will provide expanded access to Floridians who could benefit from the use of these products.”
The cultivation license would allow a license holder to grow and harvest marijuana; while a processing license would allow the permit holder to convert marijuana into a medical marijuana product, like oils, creams and food products, for qualifying patients.
Medical marijuana treatment centers with a transportation license would be allowed to deliver products to other treatment

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Modern Health Concepts, PalliaTech team up as Florida’s medical pot industry grows

Monday, January 30th, 2017

A South Florida medical marijuana dispensing organization is thinking ahead, entering into a strategic partnership to help plan for future growth.
Modern Health Concepts, a South Florida-based medical cannabis provider, announced last week that shareholders successfully formed a strategic partnership with PalliaTech Inc.
Created in 2010, the Massachusetts-based company began as a medical device company and was one of the first to develop and patent a medical cannabis vaporizing unit able to deliver a single metered dose to patients. It now operates vertically-integrated cannabis companies in several states.
“We admire what Modern Health Concepts has done to date to successfully evolve this industry and are excited about this partnership,” said Joseph Lusardi, CEO of PalliaTech in a statement. “We are encouraged by the commitment and dedication Modern Health Concepts has demonstrated regarding their vital role in this industry, and we are proud to partner with them and invest in growing their ability to provide medicine to many Floridians for years to come.”
Affiliated with Costa Nurseries, Modern Health Concepts is one of seven approved medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. The company, according to its website, plans to begin offering vaporizing cartridges early this year.
The partnership comes as state lawmakers and the health officials begin the process of implementing Amendment 2, the medical marijuana constitutional amendment.
Earlier this month, the state Department of Health initiated the process of developing rules for Amendment 2. Under the ballot language, the agency has until July 3 to create rules and regulations to implement the new medical marijuana law.
Under the preliminary rule, medical marijuana treatment centers — which would be the same as dispensing organizations — must go through the same “approval and selection process” outlined in existing law. Those organizations are also “subject to the same limitations and operational requirements” currently outlined in state law.
But a proposal by

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Trulieve to open medical marijuana dispensary in Tampa

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Trulieve is expanding into Tampa.
The medical marijuana dispensing organization announced Tuesday it will open its third dispensary Thursday in Tampa. The company currently has dispensaries in Tallahassee and Clearwater.
“This is an exciting start to the new year for Trulieve and the patients we serve,” said Kim Rivers, the company’s CEO in a statement. “As the first licensee to be authorized to dispense medical cannabis in Florida, we are pleased to serve an expanding Tampa market. We are also excited to be opening our newest dispensary.”
Trulieve is one of seven dispensing organizations currently authorized by the Department of Health to grow and distribute medical marijuana. According to the company, the new dispensary will have both low-THC and high-THC medical cannabis available in a several forms, including oral capsules and vaporizers.
Earlier this month, the Department of Health initiated the process of creating rules and regulations governing Amendment 2.
Under preliminary rules, medical marijuana treatment centers — which under new rules would be the same as a dispensing organization, must go through the same “approval and selection process” outlined in existing law. Those organizations are also “subject to the same limitations and operational requirements” currently outlined in state law.
That could mean the seven nurseries currently authorized to grow and sell medical marijuana would have a corner on the market.
Lawmakers have indicated they’re planning to weigh in on Amendment 2 implementation, and last week Sen. Rob Bradley filed a bill that would, among other things, allow for the growth of medical marijuana treatment centers once the number of registered patients hits a certain number.
A spokeswoman for the health department said in an email to FloridaPolitics.com last week the agency looks forward to “receiving input from all interested stakeholders through the open and transparent rulemaking process.”
In addition to dispensaries, Trulieve also offers a statewide delivery service. The

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Drug Free America urges caution as lawmakers discuss Amendment 2 implementation

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Drug Free America is urging Florida lawmakers to “proceed with caution” as they begin crafting legislation to implement the state’s newest medical marijuana law.
“While we were opposed to Amendment 2 for a number of specific reasons, we recognize Florida voters have spoken,” said Calvina Fay, the executive director of Drug Free America, in a statement. “We also recognize lawmakers will soon convene and consider implementing language … that will dictate policy for generations to come. We strongly urge them to exercise extreme caution moving forward.
On Thursday, Sen. Rob Bradley filed Senate Bill 406, the Amendment 2 implementing bill. The bill comes just days after the Department of Health initiated the process of developing rules, as outlined under the ballot language.
The bill, among other things, allows for the growth of medical marijuana treatment centers once the number of registered patients hits a certain number.
“In 2014, the Florida Legislature legalized low-THC medical marijuana, and in 2016 expanded the medical marijuana system to provide legal access to marijuana for terminally ill Floridians,” said Bradley in a statement last week. “Floridians want even more options, speaking loud and clear at the polls in November by passing Amendment Two. This bill significantly expands the current medical marijuana system to give Floridians the relief they have demanded, and it does so safely and quickly.”
Under Bradley’s bill, the Department of Health is required register five more medical marijuana treatment centers within six months of 250,000 qualified patients registering with the compassionate use registry. It then allows for more five more treatment centers to receive licenses after the 350,000 qualified patients, 400,000 qualified patients, 500,000 qualified patients, and after each additional 100,000 qualified patients register with the state’s compassionate use registry.
Existing law does allow for some growth, authorizing the state health department to issue three more licenses once 250,000 qualified patients register with

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DOH begins Amendment 2 rule-making

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

More patients might be eligible for medical marijuana under Amendment 2, but a preliminary draft of new rules doesn’t appear to open the state to more dispensing organizations immediately.
The Florida Department of Health announced this week it would begin holding rule-making workshops across the state in early February. Those rules are meant to set “clear guidance on use of terms and implementation” of the amendment.
The proposed rule defines a “qualifying debilitating condition” as a conditions currently outlined in state law or “cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis.”
The rule also appears to cover “debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to … as determined by the Florida Board of Medicine.”
But despite a larger pool of potential patients, the proposed rule does not open the door for more dispensing organizations than currently allowed under law.
The preliminary rule notes that all medical marijuana treatment centers, which under new rules would be the same as a dispensing organization, must go through the same “approval and selection process” outlined in existing law. Those organizations are also “subject to the same limitations and operational requirements” currently outlined in state law.
That decision means the seven nurseries currently authorized to grow, process and sell medical marijuana will have the corner on the market. Those nurseries are already growing a low THC cannabis as authorized under a 2014 state law.
There is potential for more dispensing organizations to come online in the future, but not until 250,000 qualified patients register with the compassionate use registry.
Voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment in November. The Department of Health now has until July to write rules overseeing medical marijuana. The amendment also allows the Florida Legislature

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Treadwell Nursery hires Gunster lobbyists Joanna Lee Clary Bonafanti and J. Larry Williams

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Treadwell Nursery appears to be sticking with Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart.
Joanna Lee Clary Bonafanti and J. Larry Williams registered with the state to lobby the Florida Legislature on behalf of the Central Florida nursery on Dec. 13. The nursery, which was one of several applicants seeking a permit to grow and distribute medical marijuana, enlisted the help of two other Gunster team members earlier in 2016.
State records show Derek Bruce and Cameron Yarbrough registered to lobby the Legislature on the nursery’s behalf in August and July respectively. In October 2016, the nursery also enlisted the help of Jeffrey Sharkey and Taylor Patrick Biehl with Capitol Alliance Group.
In April, Treadwell Nursery filed a petition for formal administrative hearings in response to the Department of Health’s decision to approve San Felasco Nurseries as a northeast Florida dispensing organization.
The nursery challenged how the Department of Health responded to a new state law, saying it had no criteria or timing outlined about how and when it would award additional licenses.
Treadwell Nursery, a more than 40-year-old family owned nursery in Central Florida, was one of eight nurseries in the central region to apply to be a dispensing organization. The nursery lost out to Knox Nursery. A second nursery in the region, San Felasco Nursery, won its administrative challenge and was eventually issued a licenses.
The fight over who can grow and distribute medical marijuana will surely heat up in the coming months, as state lawmakers and health department officials begin to craft rules and implement the medical marijuana constitutional amendment, which went into effect on Jan. 3.
The new law allows people with debilitating medical conditions to use higher strength medical marijuana if recommended by a licensed physician. According to the Associated Press, there are nearly 1,500 patients in the state registry and about 340 physicians have

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Personnel note: Michele Tallent becomes deputy secretary at Department of Health

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Budget whiz Michele Tallent has become the Florida Department of Health‘s full-time deputy secretary for administrative services after acting as interim since January.
The department announced the move in a Monday press release.
“Her years of service and extensive experience with finance and management will help ensure the department’s capacity to provide essential public health services,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip in a statement.
Tallent oversees the Divisions of Administration, Disability Determinations and Medical Quality Assurance, and Office of Information Technology.
She served as director of the department’s Office of Budget and Revenue Management from March 2014 until becoming acting deputy secretary for administration in January 2016.
Tallent also was budget chief for the Health and Human Services unit in the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget, “where she was responsible for developing the Governor’s recommended budget for the HHS unit, briefing senior staff, reviewing proposed legislation for fiscal impacts, communicating with House and Senate staff, and reviewing contracts,” according to the press release.
She also has served as budget director for the Agency for Health Care Administration and the chief of finance and accounting for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The post Personnel note: Michele Tallent becomes deputy secretary at Department of Health appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Miami-Dade to get $7.4 million more in state money to fight Zika

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Even though it’s mid-October, the state of Florida continues to battle the Zika virus.
And on Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott announced $7.4 million in additional state funding to Miami-Dade County to combat Zika’s spread.
The money will be allocated toward mosquito control, including increased spraying of insecticide and hiring additional staff.
Since June, Gov. Scott has authorized $61.2 million toward anti-Zika efforts.
Miami-Dade has gotten $12.6 million of that sum.
“Miami-Dade County has more than 130 cases of locally transmitted Zika and more than 230 travel related cases. We are working to aggressively fight this virus, but it is clear that more resources are needed to keep Floridians safe. While Congress passed funding to fight Zika, we have not received any yet in Florida. Today,” Scott said, “I directed [the Florida Department of Health] to immediately allocate $7 million in state funding to Miami-Dade County to ensure the community can continue aggressively fighting this virus.”
Scott has been frustrated by the lack of federal response to Zika. The governor has contended that Zika is a federal problem, yet has gotten limited federal redress.
His frustration continued Tuesday.
“We also still have multiple outstanding requests to the Obama Administration for important Zika preparedness resources. Every day that passes that Florida does not receive funding or resources means more time is lost from researching this virus and protecting pregnant women and their developing babies. Our state will continue to dedicate every available resource to keeping pregnant women and their developing children safe and healthy,” Scott said.
Among the governor’s requests to Washington since June: $25 million in matching funds for the state’s commitment to Zika research and vaccine development; additional Zika testing kits; a plan from the White House for how the state can work with FEMA to combat the mosquito-borne malady.
Scott originally declared a public health emergency in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa

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Still more Miami-Dade mosquitoes test positive for Zika

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Yet another batch of mosquitoes in Miami Beach has tested positive for the Zika virus.
The results were in the same location “where five other samples had previously tested positive,” the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced Saturday.
The latest positive sample of Aedes aeqypti mosquitoes was from a trap located on West 49th Street in Miami Beach, according to a news release.
The county’s Mosquito Control team “will continue to conduct inspections to reduce mosquito breeding and perform spray treatments as necessary in a 200-yard radius around the trap location,” the department said.
The Zika virus can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads.
Congress finally OK’ed $1.1 billion this week to fight the virus, after stalling out several times.
“We repeatedly called for months to get something done,” Gov. Rick Scott said on a conference call. “This is all about pregnant women and making sure they have healthy babies.”
According to the Department of Health, there are now 948 documented cases of Zika infection in Florida and 15 active investigations. The department has done Zika testing on more than 8,500 people across the state.
The governor has pressed for a Zika vaccine, though experts say if they started now, one wouldn’t be ready for public use for several years.
The post Still more Miami-Dade mosquitoes test positive for Zika appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Gov. Scott’s blind trust and a company with a massive pollution problem

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
When Gov. Rick Scott put $133 million of his assets into a blind trust two years ago, he included his shares of Mosaic, owner of the Central Florida fertilizer plant where 215 million gallons of contaminated wastewater recently drained into an aquifer that provides drinking water for millions of Floridians.
The post Gov. Scott’s blind trust and a company with a massive pollution problem appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Rick Scott orders DEP investigation in St. Petersburg sewage discharges

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott has ordered the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to investigate sewage discharges in St. Petersburg.
The Governor’s Office made the announcement Wednesday, just one day after Scott called on the state Department of Health to begin additional testing at the discharge site. While city is responsible for testing in the immediate area, the Department of Health will monitor the water quality and do sampling at 14 beaches — including nine in Pinellas County and five in Hillsborough.
“Florida is known for our pristine environment, world-class beaches and award winning state parks,” said Scott in a statement. “We must do all we can to protect our environment and that is why I am directing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to investigate the sewage dump that occurred in St. Petersburg following Hurricane Hermine.”
Heavy rains from Hurricane Hermine overwhelmed the area’s sewer systems. That caused millions of gallons of sewage to flow into the streets and waterways. According to the Governor’s Office, St. Petersburg dumped more than 150 million of raw and partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay and Boca Ciega Bay.
The Department of Health has issued a health advisory for Simmons Park Beach in Hillsborough County, across the bay from St. Petersburg.
The post Rick Scott orders DEP investigation in St. Petersburg sewage discharges appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Rick Scott orders DEP investigation in St. Petersburg sewage discharges

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott has ordered the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to investigate sewage discharges in St. Petersburg.
The Governor’s Office made the announcement Wednesday, just one day after Scott called on the state Department of Health to begin additional testing at the discharge site. While city is responsible for testing in the immediate area, the Department of Health will monitor the water quality and do sampling at 14 beaches — including nine in Pinellas County and five in Hillsborough.
“Florida is known for our pristine environment, world-class beaches and award winning state parks,” said Scott in a statement. “We must do all we can to protect our environment and that is why I am directing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to investigate the sewage dump that occurred in St. Petersburg following Hurricane Hermine.”
Heavy rains from Hurricane Hermine overwhelmed the area’s sewer systems. That caused millions of gallons of sewage to flow into the streets and waterways. According to the Governor’s Office, St. Petersburg dumped more than 150 million of raw and partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay and Boca Ciega Bay.
The Department of Health has issued a health advisory for Simmons Park Beach in Hillsborough County, across the bay from St. Petersburg.
The post Rick Scott orders DEP investigation in St. Petersburg sewage discharges appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Gov. Scott’s undisclosed interest – via First Lady – in Zika mosquito control company

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has an undisclosed financial interest in a Zika mosquito control company in which his wife, Florida First Lady Ann Scott, owns a multi-million dollar stake through a private investment firm she co-owns.
The post Gov. Scott’s undisclosed interest – via First Lady – in Zika mosquito control company appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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