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Diagnosis: Checking The Pulse Of Florida Health Care News And Policy

  Welcome back to Diagnosis, a vertical that focuses on the crossroads of health care policy and politics.

After Twitter and Facebook blocked former President Donald Trump from their platforms following the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, Gov. Ron DeSantis prioritized cracking down on social media companies.

DeSantis and the Republican-dominated Legislature passed a law that partially sought to prevent large social-media platforms from banning political candidates from their sites. It also required companies to publish and consistently apply standards about issues such as banning users or blocking their content.

Will Ron DeSantis’ social media law stick? Image via The Ledger.

But the tech industry went to court, arguing that the law violated First Amendment rights. And before the law could take effect, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a preliminary injunction against the measure, which he described as “riddled with imprecision and ambiguity,”

“The legislation now at issue was an effort to rein in social-media providers deemed too large and too liberal. Balancing the exchange of ideas among private speakers is not a legitimate government interest,” Hinkle wrote in his June 2021 decision.

The state appealed Hinkle’s ruling, and a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider the case Thursday during a hearing in Montgomery, Alabama.


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— More time —

Florida health care regulators have given a Destin nursing home another week to transfer its 100-plus residents to different facilities before the state temporarily shutters the facility.

Noting that protective measures had been put into place to protect the residents from danger, Agency for Health Care Administration Deputy Secretary Kimberly Smoak issued an order on April 22 giving the Destin Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center until May 2 to transfer more than 100 residents from the building.

”At the moment of this order, the facility is no longer understaffed. Whether the staffing issue has been permanently corrected so that the facility will be in compliance for the long term remains to be determined,” the order reads. “At the current time, however, temporary protective measures have been put in place to at least address the present immediacy of the danger to the point where the suspension date of the license may be briefly extended in order to better accommodate the safe and orderly discharge of the nursing home residents.”

The state puts Destin Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center on the clock, and time is running out.

According to the April 22 order, the nursing home management — which includes a new interim director of nursing and an interim chief executive officer — told the agency two days earlier there weren’t enough open nursing home beds in Okaloosa County, where the home is located, to transfer all the residents by April 25 as first ordered by the agency.

The agency estimates that there are between 40 and 50 available nursing home beds. AHCA has not provided Florida Politics with the number of residents who have been transferred from the facility since the emergency order was issued on April 16.

But according to the latest order, the facility’s “census has decreased little,” and “none of the decrease was due to the transfer of a resident to another nursing home.”

Smoak ordered the facility to “expedite the resident discharges and provide the agency with a daily status report on all the residents and the state’s actions to discharge them. The reports must include the identity of the residents and when and where they were discharged. Moreover, the names of the caregivers and health care practitioners for each resident must also be provided to the state.

— More deets —

May 2, 11:59 p.m. That’s the deadline for Medicaid home and community-based providers to submit information to the state, including signed agreements, and tap into supplemental Medicaid payments, a letter obtained by Florida Politics shows.

The letter shows that the state put a $1 million aggregate cap on the total supplemental Medicaid payments the largest providers of home and community-based services could receive. This funding is split evenly between two grant categories: provider stipends and one-time retention payments.

Home and community-based providers who provide the least care can tap into $4,000 in supplemental Medicaid payments for the two grant categories.

The clock is ticking for Medicaid payments.

However, there is no set dollar amount for mid-size providers in the formula. Instead, a uniform percent increase of 46.82% and 28.6% will be applied to base payments to determine the amount of the stipend and retention grants, respectively.

The distribution formula, which seemingly benefits smaller and mid-sized providers, had not been made public before last week when the state Agency for Health Care Administration announced it was awarding nearly $503 million in enhanced payments to nearly 2,000 providers that had applied for the grants.

According to the correspondence, providers must upload to the “budget portal” the signed letter of agreement as well as a detailed spending plan before payment is made.

Florida’s home- and community-based Medicaid providers have been waiting for weeks for word about the grant awards. The state, on Feb. 15, told the federal government it wanted to have the money distributed by the end of March.

The supplemental Medicaid funding was made possible by the American Rescue Plan, pushed by President Joe Biden.

The state is reopening the window of opportunity for providers that use 1099 staff to submit applications for the funds. Those providers will have until May 20 to submit a grant application to the state.

FloridaPolitics, excerpt posted on  SouthFloridaReporter.comApril 25, 2022

Republished with permission