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Florida Obamacare Enrollment Nears 1.8 Million

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Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2018 7:21 pm

The federal government announced that more than 1.78 million Floridians enrolled in the federal health-insurance exchange by the Dec. 15 deadline. Nationally, more than 8.4 million Americans tapped into the federal exchange, despite efforts by the Trump administration to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

The report shows that more Floridians used the federal exchange to obtain policies than any other state. That's nothing new. More here. The federal government will release a detailed final enrollment report in March that shows "effectuated" coverage, or the number of people who enrolled in the exchange and have paid their premiums.

While enrollment in the program is down from the past year, it's better than expected given the attacks on the law and federal Judge Reed O"Conner's ruling late last week that the law was unconstitutional.

Jodi Ray, director of Florida Covering Kids & Families, said the enrollment numbers show how many people in Florida need and want health insurance coverage.

"This shows me this is very, very important to people," she said.

Florida Covering Kids & Families received a $1.25 million grant this year to provide navigator services, which include helping people enroll and choose the plans that best fit their needs. Florida Covering Kids & Families is located at the University of South Florida and also works to enroll children in the state's Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage to children living in families with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The News Service of Florida reported last week that the Scott administration proposed eliminating a $200,000 contract with USF for the work in the children's health insurance program.

Now, some not-so-good news ...

Four orthopedic patients in Florida contracted bacterial infections after being treated with stem-cell products derived from umbilical cords, according to a report issued Friday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In all, 12 patients in three states have contracted infections from infusions or injections of stem cell products.

The products were manufactured by Genetech Inc. and distributed by Liveyon, which issued a recall.

The CDC report, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly, does not provide details about where the patients were treated or whether there was more than one clinic location involved. It does show, though, that the Florida Department of Health was notified in September of Escherichia coli, Enterococcus faecalis and Proteus mirabilis joint infections in four patients treated between Feb. 15 and Aug. 30.

An accompanying chart lists knees as the site of the infections for three of the patients, and the fourth patient had an infected shoulder. All the patients were hospitalized for at least five days. One of the patients was hospitalized for 30 days.

In addition to the four Florida patients, the report noted that seven patients in Texas and one patient in Arizona also suffered infections from the use of the products.

Stem cells are often referred to as "master cells" because they develop into blood, brain tissue, bones and all of the body’s organs. They have the potential to repair, restore, replace, and regenerate cells and could possibly be used to treat many medical conditions and diseases. The only stem cell-based products that are apprroved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States consist of blood-forming stem cells derived from cord blood. Those products are approved for limited use in patients with disorders that affect the production of blood.

Concerned that some patients were seeking stem cell injections for unauthorized use, the FDA increased its oversight of stem cell clinics. More here

Flashback .... Former state Sen. Dana Young and former state Rep. Jason Brodeur during the 2018 legislative session filed bills that would have set up a state regulatory framework for physicians who use stem cell treatment in their outpatient clinics. More here .


State Surgeon General Celeste Philip issued emergency orders this week lifting the suspensions of the licenses and certificates of Lisa M. Raulerson, R.N., License No. RN 2983462; William Kenneth Cooper, D.O., License No. DO 4981; and Kathleen Ann Head, C.R.T., License No. CRT 51663.


—Chomp: Providers and insurers want CMS to put some real teeth --- including financial penalties --- into any plan requiring greater price transparency from drugmakers.

—Repeat performance: Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis on Monday proposed bringing back state-government veteran Jim Zingale to run the Florida Department of Revenue. Zingale most recently worked with the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida.

—On hold: In a closely watched case, an appeals court this week agreed to put on hold a circuit judge’s ruling that said Florida lawmakers and the state Department of Health have violated a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical


—Med mal: A divided Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against an anesthesiologist in a Miami-Dade County medical-malpractice case involving a woman who died while undergoing surgery in 2009 for a tumor in her skull. Justices, in a 4-3 decision, overturned a verdict for anesthesiologist Arturo Lorenzo, who conducted a pre-anesthesia evaluation of Maria Elena Espinosa before she went into surgery.

—Illegal liens: Siding with an insurer in a case stemming from the treatment of an auto-accident victim, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday said a 2000 state law focused on Southwest Florida’s Lee Memorial Health System is unconstitutional. The case dealt with liens that Lee Memorial filed to try to get payment for services provided in 2006 and 2007 to accident victim Ruben Gallegos, according to a ruling last year by the 2nd District Court of Appeal. 

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