The Buzz on Florida politics

Obamacare
Congress
Election 2018
Irma

Latest Buzz on Florida politics

WASHINGTON - Sen. Bill Nelson on Friday joined the universal Democratic opposition to the latest Obamacare repeal bill, arguing the current law should be fixed.

“The latest Republican attempt to kill the health care law eliminates health insurance for 30 million and ends Medicaid as we know it.,” Nelson wrote on Twitter. “It’s a bad bill. We need to fix the current law instead.”

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NAPLES — Residents of the Naples Estates mobile home park beamed and cheered when President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott strolled amid piles of shredded aluminum three days after Hurricane Irma to buck up residents and hail the work of emergency responders. But almost nobody had anything good to say about their emergency shelter options prior to Irma’s landfall.

“We had so many people turned away from shelters because they were full — which is amazing that could happen in the state of Florida,” said Marla Kibbe, a seafood market employee and mobile home park resident who managed to find a condo for shelter and brought four other women with her. “One woman was 95 years old, but she got turned away from a shelter because she had a dog and they wouldn’t let her in. Another lady had medical needs and they couldn’t accommodate her.”

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A 10th elderly patient has died after being kept inside a nursing home that turned into a sweatbox when Hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning for three days, even though just across the street was a fully functioning and cooled hospital.

Hollywood police said Thursday in a news release that 94-year-old Martha Murray died Wednesday. They said her death was related to the problems at the facility following Irma. The first eight patients from the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills died Sept. 13, three days after Irma struck. The ninth died Tuesday.

From the perspective of Florida Gov. Rick Scott and relatives of those at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, criminal charges are warranted. But under Florida law, a prosecution might be difficult. Two of three ex-state prosecutors contacted by The Associated Press had doubts as to whether Dr. Jack Michel, the home’s owner, or any of his employees will be charged.

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TALLAHASSEE -- As mountains of garbage piles up from Hurricane Irma, counties across Florida say that companies they hired to remove debris won’t show up because they can make a lot more money doing the work in South Florida.

Officials in six counties -- Alachua, Hendry, Indian River, Manatee, Orange and Sarasota -- all complained to the state Thursday about problems with companies that refuse to haul debris.

“We‘ve also been told that our contracted rate of $5.50 a cubic yard is not going to cut it with the subs (subcontractors),” Hendry County Administrator Charles Chapman said, “and  we may be looking at a price, or a change order, being presented to us for as much as $8 a cubic yard. It would be nice if we had cash to play, but we don’t.”

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WASHINGTON - Democrats are using online search ads in an attempt to link Gov. Rick Scott to the latest GOP Obamacare repeal effort.

People searching for “Jimmy Kimmel” or “Jimmy Kimmel test“ will trigger ads that assert the governor, and likely 2018 Senate candidate, “wants to gut preexisting conditions coverage.” The Google ad contains a link to a video.

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Beyond the Buzz

Out of sight, out of mind
Aaron Richardson Jr., now 29, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was arrested for carjacking in 2011. While in custody he lost both his sight and hearing.
Hurricane Irma
How the slightest shift kept Hurricane Irma from turning into an even worse disaster

After failing numerous times this summer to fulfill their nearly decade-long promise to repeal former president Barack Obama’s signature health care bill, Senate Republicans might be on the brink of a breakthrough.

A proposal sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) would overhaul the current system under the Affordable Care Act by sending revenue from ACA taxes to the 50 states in block grants. The states would be allowed to apply for waivers of current ACA regulations that require all health plans to cover certain “essential health benefits” such as maternity care.

The bill would also end Medicaid’s status as an open-ended entitlement, placing a cap on the program that would cut it by tens of billions of dollars over the next decade. 

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Just how important is a win next week for Florida Democrats in the competitive special election for a state Senate seat in Miami-Dade County?

Important enough that former Vice President Joe Biden recorded a campaign call for Annette Taddeo in an effort to give a late boost to the Democrat’s candidacy against Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz.

Taddeo’s campaign announced Biden’s endorsement — and the phone call he recorded for her — on Thursday afternoon, five days before the District 40 election will be decided on Tuesday. Voting early in person and by mail has already started.

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WASHINGTON - Health Secretary Tom Price, facing scrutiny for using expensive private planes, made a trip to Florida on Monday, raising more questions about his travel.

Price joined Gov. Rick Scott in the Keys to see Hurricane Irma recovery efforts. How he got there is unclear, but if practice holds, there’s a good chance he did not fly commercial.

Several requests by the Tampa Bay Times for information have been ignored by the Health and Human Services.

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Suspected Russia propagandists on Facebook tried to organize more than a dozen pro-Trump rallies in Florida during last year’s election, The Daily Beast reports.

The demonstrations—at least one of which was promoted online by local pro-Trump activists— brought dozens of supporters together in real life. They appear to be the first case of Russian provocateurs successfully mobilizing Americans over Facebook in direct support of Donald Trump.

The Aug. 20, 2016, events were collectively called “Florida Goes Trump!” and they were billed as a “patriotic state-wide flash mob,” unfolding simultaneously in 17 different cities and towns in the battleground state. It’s difficult to determine how many of those locations actually witnessed any turnout, in part because Facebook’s recent deletion of hundreds of Russian accounts hid much of the evidence. But videos and photos from two of the locations—Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs—were reposted to a Facebook page run by the local Trump campaign chair, where they remain to this day.

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WASHINGTON - The federal government will soon begin making payments to victims of Bernie Madoff, according to a letter sent to Rep. Vern Buchanan.

“The Department of Justice appreciates your concern about the lengthy nature of this process, which is a function of the size and scope of the fraud that, as you know, touched thousands of victims all over the world,” reads the letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd.

“I assure you that we have been working very diligently at this process to ensure accurate payment to eligible victims … The Department recently notified victims whose petitions have been approved and is poised to issue initial distributions from the Assets Forfeiture Fund by the end of the 2017. These distributions will represent the largest return of forfeited funds to victims in the history of the Department’s asset forfeiture program.”

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