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Florida Democratic Party News Clips - May 9, 2013

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SENATE PREZ DON GAETZ'S FORMER COMPANY ACCUSED OF MEDICARE FRAUD

Feds accuse Gaetz's former company of Medicare fraud, including during his tenure [Miami Herald] "The U.S. Department of Justice has filed suit against the hospice company founded by Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, accusing the company of engaging in Medicare fraud for more than 11 years, including during the time Gaetz was vice chairman of the company. The lawsuit, filed May 2 in the District Court for the western district of Missouri, alleges that since at least 2002 Vitas Hospice Services and Vitas Healthcare Corp., the largest provider of for-profit hospice services in the country, 'misspent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars from the Medicare program.'"

 

DEMS KEEP PRESSURE ON SCOTT FOR SPECIAL SESSION

Democrats Call for Special Session to Expand Medicaid [Florida Center for Investigative Reporting] "Florida’s 2013 legislative session ended last week without state lawmakers agreeing on a plan to accept federal money for expanding Medicaid in the state. Now, Democrats are asking the governor to call a special session to work out a deal...Florida Republicans have taken a hard line against every provision in the federal health care law since it passed three years ago, and not much is different with the Medicaid provision. State lawmakers, including Republican Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, have said they will not accept any of the money for ideological reasons...Although Gov. Scott has endorsed the state’s approval of the Medicaid funds, he did not make Medicaid expansion a legislative priority this year."

  

FLORIDA'S FIRST OPENLY GAY LEGISLATOR REP. DAVID RICHARDSON WILL BE HONORED FOR HIS EFFORTS IN FL HOUSE FRIDAY

David Richardson, Florida's first openly gay legislator, to be honored Friday by SAVE Dade [Miami Herald] "Forensic accountant David Richardson, Florida’s first openly gay state lawmaker, planned to take things slowly when he got to Tallahassee this year for his legislative debut. Then, the first time Richardson addressed the House, he discussed life as a gay man. 'The first time I spoke on the floor was when I filed an amendment to a foster care bill,' said Richardson, 56. 'There I was making my first argument about why a gay foster kid should be protected in our state foster care system.' 'I am that child,' the freshman lawmaker told colleagues in an emotional statement...Richardson and two straight, gay-friendly politicians, U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia and Miami-Dade Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa, will be honored Friday by SAVE Dade, the county’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights group."

 

CHARLIE CRIST ENDORSES GAY MARRIAGE 

Charlie Crist: I support gay marriage [Tampa Bay Times] "[...]Tonight he posted the following on Facebook: 'Some great news: On Tuesday, Delaware became the 11th state to allow marriage equality. And just a few days ago, Rhode Island adopted a similar measure, which followed victories last fall in Maine, Maryland and Washington. I most certainly support marriage equality in Florida and look forward to the day it happens here.'"

  

AND THE GOP STILL THINKS HEALTH CARE REFORM IS NOT A PRIORITY...

Hospitals Bill 3-to-5 Times Medicare Rate [WUSF] "Data being released by Medicare for the first time allow the public to see just how absurdly inflated most hospital bills have become -- bearing little relationship to what Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers actually pay. The uninsured, those least able to pay, are the only ones who are actually required to pay the charge amount, The New York Times reports. And there is quite a swing in the totals, even in the same community. The data from 2011 show, for example, that a hospital in Orange Park typically billed more than $91,000 for a minimally invasive gallbladder surgery that brought a $40,000 charge at a hospital in nearby St. Augustine."