New rules aimed at cracking down on “pill mill” prescription drug clinics that were set to go into effect Thanksgiving weekend won’t, because legislators passed a new law requiring legislative approval of certain expensive new regulations, including the prescription drug rules.
Lawmakers actually first passed the measure giving them more oversight of rulemaking in the spring, but vetoed it. Lawmakers then overrode his veto in a special session earlier this month. The law requires legislative approval of new rules that will cost more than $1 million over five years. New health rules provide standards for pain clinics, and require unannounced inspections.
Currently, pain clinics that don’t take insurance but operate on cash aren‘t regulated, but that would change under the new rules. The clinic rules are expected to be discussed Dec. 3 and 4 at the Board of Medicine meeting in Orlando, but could be on hold until legislators can revisit them in the spring. Once the rules are better set, there will be a cost estimate to determine whether the inspection program could drive the cost above the threshold for the to approve the new pending regulations.
MENDELSOHN SET TO PLEAD GUILTY
South Florida eye doctor and political fund-raiser Alan Mendelsohn plans to plead guilty to conspiracy, according to documents filed last week in federal court.
One of Mendelsohn’s attorneys, Alvin Entin, told the that Mendelsohn will plead guilty to one conspiracy count when he goes before U.S. District Judge William Zloch on Dec. 8. alleged the Hollywood ophthalmologist scammed would-be political donors into thinking they were getting more influence in Tallahassee than they may have been, and of stealing more than $350,000 from political action committees under his control.
STATES FILE LATEST ROUND IN HEALTH CARE CASE
Preparing for a judicial showdown in December, Florida and other plaintiffs have filed the latest salvo in the battle over the federal health-care insurance package approved by Congress earlier this year.
With arguments scheduled for Dec. 16 before U.S. Federal Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola, attorneys for opponents of the reform package filed a 161-page brief last Tuesday calling on Vinson to rule in their favor in a over the sweeping reform package. Florida is among 20 states and the National Federation of Independent Business that have challenged the federal legislation that, among other things, requires individuals to carry health insurance or face penalties.
"The is unprecedented," the brief states. "It compels citizens to engage in commerce even though they have not themselves chosen to enter the marketplace. Never before has Congress purported to use its power over interstate commerce to compel activity, rather than to regulate existing economic activity."
FLORIDA TO ASK FOR DELAY ON MED LOSS-RATIO ISSUE
State insurance officials will ask the federal government to let Florida health plans have more time to meet new federal requirements for how much of a company’s premium dollar must go to medical care as opposed to administrative costs.
The federal health law that goes into effect Jan. 1 requires small group and individual plans to spend at least 80 percent of premium on medical expenses, and makes large group plans pay 85 percent.
State insurance officials have said some smaller companies may not be able to meet that threshhold, and the Office of Insurance Regulation said last week it will ask for a delay in enforcing the requirement until 2014, or to at least phase it in over that time period.
SMITH SUPPORTERS CIRCLE WAGONS
Former state Sen. Rod Smith gained an edge last Wednesday in the Florida Democratic Party leadership tussle, with one of his potential rivals folding and endorsing him for chairman. Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman Mark Siegel said in a statement released by Smith that he was abandoning his bid to succeed retiring state party chief .
“Rod Smith has set the stage for our rebirth as a modern, inclusive, grass-roots party which can fulfill the hopes and dreams of its many dedicated workers and constituencies,” Siegel said. The move comes a day after Tallahassee City Commissioner announced he would challenge Smith for the chairmanship, expected to be decided in a January election.
Both Smith and Gillum are positioned to be named to posts next month on their respective county Democratic executive committees. Smith generally has the support of the party’s elected officials, including U.S. , who in January will become Florida’s sole statewide Democratic official when Alex Sink steps down as chief financial officer. Smith was Sink’s running mate in her unsuccessful bid for governor.
The party also lost four Florida congressional seats and seven seats in the state Legislature on Election Day, fueling the push by Gillum and others to bring in a fresh lineup at the top.
Smith supporters, however, have pointed to his legislative and legal experience as adding muscle to the party’s efforts during 2012 reapportionment. Smith is a former Alachua County prosecutor.