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Florida Medical Association flexing political muscle

One of the state’s powerful health care groups — the Florida Medical Association — is meeting this weekend in Central Florida, and the group is using the gathering to showcase several candidates it is backing in this year’s elections.

The FMA’s political action committee is hosting a Saturday luncheon where it will feature U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who is running for governor; former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody, who is running for attorney general; and state Rep. Gayle Harrell, who is running for state Senate.

The doctors’ group raised eyebrows this week when it endorsed DeSantis, an endorsement that came after President Donald Trump held a rally in Tampa where he resoundingly called on the state’s voters to back DeSantis in the Aug. 28 Republican primary. This was the first statewide association to back DeSantis, who is locked in an increasingly bitter contest with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The FMA called DeSantis a “true friend of medicine” and said he would represent physicians, but DeSantis has not discussed health care issues in any detail. DeSantis opposes former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul but has not revealed positions on issues such as scope of practice, reimbursement rates or medical malpractice.

The FMA has been critical of Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, even though the American Medical Association backed the law. So far, the overhaul has been more of an issue in the Democratic primary, where candidates have supported expanding Medicaid, a key component of the overhaul that the Republican-controlled Legislature rejected.

On the Medicaid managed care front, there have been lots of legal changes in the last week in challenges to the state Agency for Health Care Administration’s contracting decisions. Coral Care voluntarily dismissed a challenge. And specialty challenges filed by Our Children’s PSN, the South Florida Community Care Network, Magellan and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation have been consolidated and transferred to Administrative Law Judge John Newton for consideration. Arguments in those challenges have been delayed to a yet-to-be-announced date.

Best Care Assurance, a managed care plan that filed a protest at the 11th hour, is scheduled for a hearing. But that has been pushed back to Sept. 11 and Sept. 12. The health plan is challenging the agency’s decision to award Molina Healthcare a contract in Medicaid Region 8 in Southwest Florida. Best Care Assurance is arguing, among other things, that the law limits the number of contracts in Region 8. Including Molina, AHCA has awarded five contracts in the region. More here.

Speaking of Medicaid, here is a summary of the latest Medicaid enrollment figures released by the Social Services Estimating Conference this week. Conferees will get together to talk money on Monday.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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