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Bondi bashes Obamacare with FOX friends

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joined FOX News “Fox & Friends” host Gretchen Carlson early this morning for the latest round of Obamacare-bashing.

Bondi, a former contributor to FOX News and frequent guest on the conservative network since her 2010 election, was asked about the latest twist in the federal health care law that spurred an outcry from Republicans.

President Obama’s administration announced on Friday it was delaying requirements that state-run health care insurance exchanges verify applicants’ eligibility for subsidized health care coverage.

Bondi railed against the HHS delay of the verification for eligibility. But the new rule won’t affect Florida because the state is not running its own exchange. Just 16 states and the District of Columbia chose to set up their own marketplaces. Like Florida, nearly every other state has defaulted to the federal government’s exchange.

“Here, now, we have nothing to prevent fraud. Anyone can come and say that they qualify for this and there’s absolutely no verification,” Bondi, a Republican, told Carlson.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it would delay the required random checks for eligibility for a year. The online exchanges are supposed to go up on Oct. 1, and individuals are slated to begin purchasing insurance through them by Jan. 1.

Bondi took over a multi-state lawsuit led by Florida against the Obama administration over the health care law after she took office in 2011. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law last year but ruled that states do not have to participate in an expansion of Medicaid that was a key portion of the federal law. Florida lawmakers opted this year not to expand the federal-state health care program for the poor. The expansion would have covered about 1 million uninsured Floridians.

The fact that the new regulation won’t impact Florida didn’t diminish Bondi’s outrage.

“It’s going to be unbelievable,” she said. “I’m not going to say everybody’s going to commit fraud…
I would hope they wouldn’t. But we’ve opened something up that is vulnerable and invites fraud. That’s what frightens all of us. It’s going to be difficult for the IRS to verify. It’s going to be difficult for state authorities to verify. It’s just one more example of what a mess this federal takeover has become.”

Speaker Weatherford tells black caucus House will release alternative to Medicaid expansion

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 by Dara Kam

House Speaker Will Weatherford told the Florida Legislative Black Caucus last night that the House will offer its own alternative to expanding Medicaid, a move the Senate is considering to cover 1 million Floridians who lack health insurance.

Weatherford, who has rejected the Medicaid expansion, did not give any details about the plan but said that it would be “targeted” to vulnerable citizens such as the severely disabled on wait lists for services.

But he said the House plan will not be as broad as a Senate proposal crafted by budget chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart, that would broaden Medicaid coverage to about 1 million low-income Floridians through a privatized plan using money available under the federal health care law.

“We will have a plan in the House. We’re not just sitting on our hands and saying we’re not going to do that. But whatever we do do is something that’s sustained if the government can’t continue to pay its share, something that we can afford without having to do a massive tax increase on our citizens,” Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, told about a dozen black lawmakers Monday night.

“Florida should blaze its own path and do it its way,” he said.

Black caucus chairwoman Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, brought up the issue during her introduction of Weatherford. She pointed out that the Senate has an alternative to the expansion and that Gov. Rick Scott, once a fierce opponent of “Obamacare,” reversed his opposition to the expansion and now supports it.

“We want to hear from you on this…All of the folks that we represent who are disproportionately affected by the lack of quality care. It’s on you, Mr. Speaker,” Joyner said.

Weatherford said he wants to make sure that the neediest Floridians who currently lack health insurance get it. He said thousands of children and adult who can’t take care of themselves are waiting for services. The Medicaid expansion under the federal health care law would cover individuals at up to 138 percent of the poverty level, about “600,000 of them that are able-bodied adults that don’t have children” in Florida, he said.

“We’re going to give all 600,000 of them free health care through the federal government while somebody else waits in line with a real disability. I’ve got a problem with that,” Weatherford said.

When pressed by reporters for details after the meeting, Weatherford said he was not sure which committee would offer the House proposal, or when. The legislature is at the mid-point in the 60-day session that ends on May 3.

“We still have time. We want to make sure it’s a fully-baked plan, not half-baked. The all-or-nothing approach that’s been suggested by Washington, D.C., the inflexible nature of it is not good for Florida,” he said. “Whatever our approach is, I think it will be one that is more targeted and less shotgun.”

Gov. Rick Scott reversed his position on the issue and now supports the Medicaid expansion, but committees in both chambers rejected that idea. And Weatherford has refused to budget on the issue.

State Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, has come up with another plan in which the state would subsidize health insurance costs for low-income Floridians. That proposal has not yet had a hearing. The Senate is moving forward with a plan by Senate budget chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart, that would allow the state to draw down federal funds to cover about 1 million uninsured Floridians through privatized health care plans.

Weatherford said House leaders are “looking at all the alternatives that are out there.”

But, he said, “before we put something out there for public consumption we want to make sure it’s well thought out and it addresses the safety net needs of the state,” he said. “We don’t have a drop-dead date but we’re working on it and it’s forthcoming.”

Senate president to create select committee on federal health care law

Monday, November 19th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, who will officially take the gavel tomorrow, will create a select committee on the the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the federal health care law that he and other Republicans were banking on being repealed.

After two years of ignoring the law and President Obama’s re-election, GOP legislative leaders are scrambling to figure out how to comply with the law and meet deadlines dealing with health care exchanges, or marketplaces where small businesses and individuals can shop for health insurance. The exchanges are the cornerstone of the federal health care law and are part of the plan to provide health insurance to more than 30 million uninsured Americans nationwide.

Gaetz, R-Niceville, released proposed new rules that lawmakers will officially endorse tomorrow during the organizational session kicking off the 2013 legislative session.

Among other things, the new rules require each of the 40 members of the Senate to take a minimum of one hour of ethics training.

And the new rules prohibit senators from voting on a measure in which they have a conflict of interest. Under the old rules, senators had to disclose the conflict but were still permitted to vote on the matter.

Palm Beach County has two new state senators who will be sworn in along with other newly-elected members tomorrow. Democratic Sens. Joseph Abruzzo of Wellington and Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth, both former state representatives, join fellow Democrat Sen. Maria Sachs of Delray Beach. Clemens survived a heated primary against state Rep. Mack Bernard and Sachs defeated former state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, in a brutal race for a newly drawn Senate district encompassing parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties. Sen. Joe Negron, R- Stuart, is the lone GOP senator representing part of Palm Beach County.

Confusion as Scott cedes control of health exchanges to feds

Friday, July 6th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott’s insistence that he will not implement the state health insurance exchanges mandated under the federal health care law doesn’t mean Florida won’t have one.

Instead, it most likely means the federal government will have control over Florida’s exchanges, including how they will operate, what benefits insurers will have to offer and who gets to sell the policies.

While Scott has spent much of the last week on national television and radio attacking the federal health-care program recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Florida Senate leaders have been working on a plan to not only implement the exchanges but to expand Medicaid, which Scott also said the state will refuse to do.

It all adds up to confusion over what Florida will do and, at least for now, points to likely federal control.

Scott, who says the government can’t run anything better or cheaper than private businesses do, cut his political teeth fighting President Obama’s health care law before it was even passed by Congress in 2010.

And he stepped up his campaign against the law on national television in the days since the high court issued its ruling last week.

“What has the government ever provided cheaper?” Scott asked Fox News host Greta Van Susteren last week. “They don’t. They always overpromise and underdeliver.”

Scott’s distrust of the federal government makes his decision to cede the state’s power to the White House – regardless of who’s occupying it – all the more curious.

Read the full story here.

Bondi joins other AGs in lawsuit against Obama administration over birth control

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 by Dara Kam

Attorney General Pam Bondi today joined six other GOP attorneys general in a lawsuit against President Obama’s administration over a controversial mandate requiring employers to offer health insurance offering free birth control.

Bondi and Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas are accusing the White House of violating freedom of religion with the requirement, a hot-button issue in the GOP presidential primary.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Nebraska, mirrors one filed this week by Ave Maria University, a small Catholic college near Naples, claiming its religious liberties are being violated by the administration’s order that its employees receive health insurance with no-cost contraceptive coverage.

“Government has no business forcing religious institutions and individuals to violate their sincerely held beliefs. This lawsuit is about protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience, our most basic freedoms as Americans,” Bondi said in a press release.

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include a Catholic High School, Catholic Social Services and a nun.

Mack slaps Nelson as one of Obama’s ‘lockstep liberals’

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Tarring Democratic opponent Bill Nelson as one of President Obama’s “lockstep liberals”, Republican U.S. Rep. Connie Mack said Tuesday that Floridians are looking for a change in the U.S. Senate.

“It’s pretty clear to me that this country, our country, is moving in the wrong directions,” Mack said in a conference call with reporters from his Fort Myers hometown.

Mack made his candidacy official Monday night in an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox-TV show. Mack, first elected to Congress in 2004, is the fifth Republican in the race to unseat Nelson, who is seeking his third term.

Mack is looking to win the same seat held by his father and namesake, former Republican U.S. Sen. Connie Mack. His dad defeated Democrat Buddy MacKay in 1988 after taunting him with the phrase, “Hey Buddy, you’re liberal.” And on Tuesday, the political apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

“Bill Nelson has become one of Barack Obama’s leading guys in the United States Senate,” Mack said, deriding his Democratic rival for supporting the president’s push on health care, stimulus spending, and energy cap-and-trade legislation.

Nelson is among the “lockstep liberals in Washington” the president depends on to advance his agenda, Mack said. The Republican contender, however, disputed that he, like his father, is looking to win by demonizing liberals.

“It’s not an attempt to demonize,” Mack said. “It’s to point out the differences.”

When those close to Mack confirmed a few weeks ago that he was planning to enter the race, the congressman immediately became the favorite, according to polls.

 A Quinnipiac University survey earlier this month showed Mack with a formidable lead over the four Republicans already in the race. A Rasmussen Reports poll also showed Mack could be trouble for Nelson, with the congressman favored by 43 percent of voters to 39 percent for the Democrat. The survey of 500 likely voters had a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percent.

Scott and Atwater want PIP fix — but how?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater called on lawmakers Tuesday to revamp state law governing motorists’ personal injury protection (PIP), which critics say is costing Floridians an extra $1 billion a year in higher costs stemming from fraud, questionable medical treatment and legal costs.

Insurance rates for the $10,000 mandatory PIP coverage have spiked as much as 80 percent in some Miami and Tampa Bay-area neighborhoods between 2008 and 2010, according to state officials.

PIP insurance claims also are up 40 percent over that time even as accidents statewide have tumbled by 8 percent – with leaders saying the disparity stems from a rising number of suspected staged accidents to fraudulently draw payments.

Atwater turned to law enforcement officers flanking him Tuesday at a Capitol news conference, saying, “we’re going to get you some relief.”  He also said consumers needed help.

“They have been trying to swim in a pool of piranhas, and we’ve got to throw them a lifeline,” Atwater said.

But Atwater, Scott and several lawmakers attending Tuesday’s call for change acknowledged that there was no clear path to overhauling the PIP system. 

Insurers, the hospital industry, lawyers and health care providers  were gathered into a working group last month under state insurance consumer advocate Robin Westcott, but failed to agree on recommendations.

“They’re all fighting for their part,” Atwater said.

Now, it’s legislators’ turn.

“It’s going to be a challenging bill to get passed,” acknowledged Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, an insurance agent, who doubles as chairman of the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee.

Bondi praises justices for taking up federal health care

Monday, November 14th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Critics of the federal health care overhaul supported by President Obama weighed-in Monday, praising the U.S. Supreme Court for agreeing to review the constitutionality of the sweeping measure.

Florida is among 26 states challenging the law, which the National Federation of Independent Business also wants to have overturned.

“I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the States’ challenge to the federal health care law,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has continued to spearhead a lawsuit first brought by her predecessor, fellow Republican Bill McCollum. ”Throughout this case, we have urged swift judicial resolution because of the unprecedented threat that the individual mandate poses to the liberty of Americans simply because they live in this country.”

Justices plan to hear arguments in March.  The dispute turns on Congress’s constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.

Timing of the case only reaffirms that the health care overhaul will continue as a central theme of the 2012 presidential election.

 ”We are hopeful that by June 2012 we will have a decision that protects Americans’ and individuals’ liberties and limits the federal government’s power,” Bondi added. “We look forward to presenting oral argument and defending our position that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, that the entire law fails if one part fails, that the Anti-Injunction Act does not apply, and that Medicaid’s expansion is unlawfully coercive.”

 The Obama administration, which earlier asked the Supreme Court to review the legal challenges, said it’s confident the overhaul will be upheld as constitutional.

“ Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, one million more young Americans have health insurance, women are getting mammograms and preventive services without paying an extra penny out of their own pocket and insurance companies have to spend more of your premiums on health care instead of advertising and bonuses,” said Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer. “We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree.

 

Bondi, 25 other states appeal to U.S. Supremes on federal health care law

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Without waiting for President Obama’s administration to appeal lower court rulings, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and 25 other states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the federal health care law is unconstitutional.

Florida led the challenge against the Obama administration, arguing that its requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance – also known as the “individual mandate” – is unconstitutional.

Last month, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional but upheld the remainder of the sweeping health care law, including a dramatic expansion of Medicaid.

But even Obama’s attorneys believe that much of the law relies on the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance.

Although several other cases are working their way through the courts, attorneys on both sides believe that a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Florida’s multi-state case will ultimately decide the matter.

Bondi’s lawyers argued that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act forces individuals to engage in commerce and is an imposition on states because of increased Medicaid costs which they cannot avoid.

“Both features of the Act raise constitutional issues that go to the heart of our system of limited government and the Constitution‘s division of authority between the federal government and the States. Of the various challenges working their way through the federal courts, only this case allows the Court to address both of these fundamental questions,” lawyers representing Bondi and the National Federal of Independent Businesses, wrote in the appeal filed today.

Bondi is holding a noon press conference on the filing today in the Capitol.

Federal court tosses Virginia federal health care lawsuits

Thursday, September 8th, 2011 by Dara Kam

A federal appeals court tossed two Virginia lawsuits Thursday challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care law’s insurance requirement, also known as the individual mandate.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed both lawsuits, ruling that neither the state’s attorney general Ken Cuccinelli or Liberty University had standing to challenge the law. The three-judge panel’s decision overturned a lower-court ruling invalidating the insurance requirement.

Thursday’s ruling now leaves an even score on other appellate rulings on the health care law. First, a three-judge panel in Cincinnati ruled in favor of the law. A more recent decision last month from an Atlanta three-judge panel ruling in a multi-state lawsuit headed by Florida that the individual mandate portion of the law was unconstitutional but left the remainder of the law intact.

And it heightens the importance of the Florida lawsuit, which observers say will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gov. Rick Scott, who made his fortune in the health care industry, launched his foray into politics more than two years ago with an effort to keep the proposed health care reforms from going into law. Scott is an outspoken critic of the law and once said fighting against it was one of the reasons he ran for governor.

Yesterday, lawmakers approved a request from Scott’s administration for a $3.4 billion grant drawn from the federal Affordable Care Act. The Legislative Budget Commission signed off on taking the cash to provide home visitation services to at-risk families.

Federal court finds individual mandate unconstitutional, leaves remainder of law intact

Friday, August 12th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Striking a blow to the White House, a federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Barack Obama’s health care law requiring Americans to buy health insurance is unconstitutional.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta also found that the remainder of the law can remain intact.

Florida former attorney general Bill McCollum launched the lawsuit against the federal government over the sweeping law. Twenty-five other states have since joined the suit, now likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Senate Saturday session includes Medicaid, immigration still on hold

Thursday, April 28th, 2011 by Dara Kam

As budget talks on health and human services appropriations stalled, the Senate is moving forward with its Medicaid overhaul. Senate GOP leaders have not scheduled the immigration bill for Saturday, although only two hours of notice are required to add it to the agenda.

The Senate will take up its proposal (SB 1972) on Saturday along with dozens of local bills and Senate confirmations of Gov. Rick Scott’s appointees. But no word yet on whether the chamber will address immigration reform, still in flux as Senate Budget Chief J.D. Alexander, now shepherding the bill (SB 2040), weighs his options.

The House and Senate are both looking to put most of the state’s 2.9 million Medicaid patients into HMO-style plans. But differences abound between the two approaches. The Senate would divide the state into 19 regions, based on state court circuits; the House proposes eight.

The chambers are far apart on immigration reform as well. The House’s Arizona-style plan is on hold as the Senate considers a more moderate approach.
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Oral arguments set in federal health care lawsuit

Thursday, March 31st, 2011 by Dara Kam

A federal appeals court in Atlanta has set June 8 for oral arguments in the the federal health care lawsuit but denied Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s request for a full court hearing.

The fast-tracked lawsuit by 26 states, including Florida, and the National Federal of Independent Businesses is ultimately headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We are pleased that the 11th Circuit scheduled oral argument this June, so we can resolve this case and protect Americans’ individual liberties,” Bondi said in a statement. “This case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and a case of such national importance should have no delay.”

Pensacola U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in January ruled the health overhaul unconstitutional, saying the U.S. Commerce Clause did not allow the federal government to require every citizen to buy insurance or pay a penalty. Doing so would give the federal government such sweeping powers that it could force its citizens to eat broccoli, he contended.

Vinson, who is based in Pensacola, declared the entire health act invalid.

Earlier this month Vinson put a stay on his ruling while the appeals proceed – meaning the health act could continue to be implemented – but gave the White House a week to appeal. President Obama’s administration filed the appeal on March 9.

Scott responds to conflict of interest questions…sort of

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott, a former health care CEO, gave a longish response to a question about The Palm Beach Post’s report about a potential conflict of interest with his proposed changes to the state’s regulation of the health care industry.

Asked what his response is to critics who say his changes are designed to benefit Solantic, the chain of urgent care clinics Scott recently transferred ownership of to his wife Ann, Scott stayed on message.

“Everything that I want to accomplish in health care in Florida is basically what I’ve believed all my life. I believe in the principle that if you have more competition, it will drive down the prices. If you give people more choices, it’s better for the consumer and also help drive down price. I believe that we should reward the person that takes care of themself, eats right, doesn’t smoke, exercises, things like that. All those things are the things that I believe in and that’s exactly what I’m going to do as governor,” Scott said.

Feds file appeal in health care lawsuit

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 by Dara Kam

President Obama’s administration filed an appeal Tuesday afternoon in Florida’s lawsuit challenging the federal health care law, meeting a Pensacola federal judge’s deadline.

Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District of Florida, who struck down the law as unconstitutional, issued a stay Thursday of his earlier ruling, effectively ordering the 26 states that challenged it – including Florida – to continue to implement the law.

But e gave the White House until Thursday to appeal for his stay to remain intact.

The U.S. Justice Department filed the appeal to the Eleventh Circuit appeals court in Atlanta, but could have gone directly to the U.S. Supreme Court where the case will ultimately be decided.

Pensacola judge rules White House can carry on health care law, for now

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

President Obama’s administration can continue implementation of the federal health care act, a federal judge ordered today in the multi-state lawsuit led by Florida.

But, in a 20-page order issued today, Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District of Florida gave the White House one week to file its appeal.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, leading the charge in the case involving 25 other states, had insisted that Vinson’s ruling quashed the law and that the state no longer had to implement it.

But in his “clarification” issued today, Vinson today wrote that his January ruling striking down the federal law as unconstitutional did not force White House officials and states to stop implementing the law.

But, he wrote, that was because he expected the Justice Department to immediately file an appeal in the case, expected to ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The sooner this issue is finally decided by the Supreme Court, the better off the entire nation will be. And yet, it has been more than one month from the entry of my order and judgment and still the defendants have not filed their notice of appeal,” Vinson wrote.
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Lose weight, quit smoking or lose Medicaid benefits?

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Sen. Joe Negron wants fat Floridians and smokers to get healthy or else.

Included in Negron’s revamp of the state-federal Medicaid program – which Negron will release tomorrow – is a component aimed at what senators are calling “personal responsibility.”

Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who helped craft Negron’s bill, said Medicaid patients have to take control of their health care just as he had to do when his doctor told him to lose weight.

“We’re saying that an individual who’s been diagnosed as morbidly obese needs to be on a medically-directed program of weight loss to manage that health care problem that could turn into an increased taxpayer liability. The same thing with smokers,” Gaetz said.

The bill would require smokers and alcoholics and drug addicts to get treatment, Gaetz said.

Negron said his bill would include incentives for Medicaid patients to lose weight, quit smoking and stop drinking but did not give details about what they would be.

If they don’t get thinner and put down the smokes, Negron said their coverage could be cut off.

“It’s possible,” Negron, R-Stuart, said.

He said the Medicaid program currently includes a seldom-used provision that would allow the state to boot patients out.

“If you are non-compliant with your appointments, if you reject medical advice, there is a system in place under current law, which is rarely used but it has been used, …where someone would no longer receive services,” Negron said.

Healthier Medicaid patients will save the state money, Gaetz and Negron said.

“They not only compromise the quality of that person’s life they compromise the efficacy of any medical care that might be rendered but they drive up costs that are then shifted to the friends and neighbors who are actually paying the health care bill for the individual who is smoking,” Gaetz said.

The system can no longer tolerate someone “who is an alcoholic and wants to offload the medical consequences of alcoholism to the taxpayers of Florida,” Gaetz said.

Scott budget plan rolls back corporate biz tax, cuts property taxes $1 billion

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott’s budget plan includes a tax cut for businesses that would decrease corporate income taxes from 5.5 percent to 3 percent and roll back property taxes by $1 billion, the governor said in Tampa this afternoon.

Scott did not reveal details of how he plans to come up with the savings while also closing a $3.62 billion budget deficit but is scheduled to release his entire budget on Monday in Eustis.

Scott’s also blaming Florida’s budget woes in part on the federal health care law recently struck down by a Pensacola federal judge as unconstitutional.

Scott’s ‘Axis of Unemployment’ catches on

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott‘s characterization of taxes, regulation and litigation as the “axis of unemployment” during his inaugural speech yesterday is destined to become a familiar mantra for fellow Republicans as they embrace his pro-business agenda.

It didn’t take long for Rep. Matt Hudson to latch onto the catchphrase to pitch his latest bill resurrecting legislation vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist last year.

Hudson, a fellow Republican who hails from Scott’s Naples hometown, filed the bill (HB 119) that would “reduce, streamline and clarify regulations” for providers overseen by the Agency for Health Care Administration, according to a press release issued by Hudson’s office.

“HB 119 will be essential in fighting the axis of unemployment and ensuring that the tax dollars of Florida’s citizens are not being wasted,” Hudson said in the statement.

Fla tea partiers push VA-style anti-health insurance law

Monday, December 20th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The Florida Liberty Alliance – a coalition of tea party activists – is pushing Senate President Mike Haridopolos to pass a law similar to Virginia’s that would exempt Floridians from the federal health care law requiring individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a fine.

The group wants Haridopolos and the Florida Legislature to pass something similar to Virginia’s “Health Care Freedom Act” and make it one of the first things they do when they convene in March.

Haridopolos has already sponsored a constitutional amendment by the same name that would allow Florida to opt out of the health care law, now under scrutiny by a federal judge in Pensacola.

But the alliance doesn’t want to wait until the 2012 election when the proposal would go on the ballot.

“We respectfully ask that all expeditious measure be taken to introduce legislation to create Florida law, as was crafted so well in Virginia, to secure these protections by statute for Floridians as one of the very first legislative initiatives in the new session,” wrote a group of tea party activists in a letter to Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, released today.

“We believe that if Governor Scott, as one of his first acts on taking office, were to sign such legislation into law, the citizens of Florida would see that our elected Representatives not only take their oath of office to protect the Constitution seriously, but it would send a very strong message to Washington and the entire nation,” the letter goes on.

A federal judge in Virginia last week overturned the “individual mandate” portion of the law requiring that individuals and families have health insurance coverage or pay a fine. That case is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola this week heard oral arguments in a challenge filed by Attorney General Bill McCollum and 19 other states. The Florida case also contends that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and that the federal government overreached its authority with sweeping changes to the federal-state Medicaid program included in the law.

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