Biden administration sides with Florida on Canadian drug imports
President Joe Biden’s administration Friday night filed a motion in federal court seeking to dismiss a lawsuit that aims to prevent prescription drug imports from Canada — a plan Florida is lobbying to utilize. The Biden administration’s motion essentially sides with Florida and New Mexico, the only other state that has formally started the process of applying for Canadian imports. The motion asks a federal court in Washington to toss a lawsuit from the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, which represents brand-named drug producers, against the Department of Health and Human Services. [Source: Politico]
Florida Supreme Court rejects challenge to medical marijuana law
Siding with the state in a closely watched case that has kept the cannabis industry in limbo, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 2017 law designed to carry out a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. The court’s 42-page ruling came in a drawn-out legal battle launched by Tampa-based Florigrown LLC, which, in part, challenged the state’s system of requiring licensed medical marijuana operators to handle all aspects of the cannabis business, including, growing, processing, distributing and selling products. [Source: News Service of Florida ]
Healthy Kids program ready to revisit dental contracts
After a year delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a state children’s health insurance program is putting its dental services out for bid. Members of the Florida Healthy Kids Corp. Board of Directors met Thursday in Orlando and approved publishing an “invitation to negotiate” for dental coverage in the Florida Healthy Kids program. Staff members didn’t give a precise publication date for the invitation but said the goal is to have negotiations completed and decisions made by the end of this year so coverage can be in effect by July 2022. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Florida’s Coronavirus positivity rate lowest since summer surge
Florida’s coronavirus positivity rate dipped to the lowest levels it’s been in close to a year. Health News Florida began tracking the daily percentage of new positive cases in late July, when infection numbers were surging and rates neared 15%. The 3.2% reported by the Florida Department of Health on Thursday is the lowest since at least that time, and likely since before cases started rising in June. [Source: Health News Florida]
As Florida schools break for summer, mass vaccination sites shutter operations and mask mandates end, doctors and health officials worry that many eligible 12- to 17-year-olds will decline the shots, leaving them — and the grown-ups they live with — vulnerable. “Really, there’s no good reason not to vaccinate children, because they’re going to continue to be exposed to this virus in the months and years to come,” said Dr. Federico Laham, medical director for pediatric infectious diseases at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. “This virus is not going to go away.” [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Former health department employee, Rebekah Jones, granted official whistleblower status
Rebekah Jones is officially a whistleblower under Florida law, the Office of the Inspector General told her attorneys Friday. Jones, who was responsible for building the COVID-19 data dashboard for the Florida Department of Health, was fired last year after raising concerns about “misleading data” being presented to the public, according to the complaint.
› Florida hits managed care plans for damages
Florida relies on managed-care companies to provide Medicaid coverage to 3.7 million low-income and elderly residents, but a review of data assembled by regulators shows that the companies have been hit with dozens of complaints that have resulted in the state requesting millions of dollars in payments.
› Florida TaxWatch looks at health care and the economy after pandemic
Last week, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) released “Beyond the Pandemic: Long Term Changes and Challenges for Health in Florida,” a report which addresses a unique confluence of factors that are contributing to important outcomes for the state’s health care system and consequently, the economy. The analysis is the first installment in the taxpayer research institute’s COVID-19 Legacy Series, examining the impact of the pandemic on a particular focus area (like health) as well as the economic implications of those changes.
› Feds accuse South Florida businessmen of exploiting the pandemic to bilk Medicare
A handful of South Florida healthcare businessmen have been charged with bilking the federal government of millions of dollars by exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic and billing for unnecessary medical services. As part of a nationwide crackdown this week, the Justice Department charged Michael Stein and Leonel Palatnik, both of Palm Beach County, with running a $73 million conspiracy to defraud the Medicare health insurance program while paying and receiving kickbacks during the pandemic.
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