The Weekly Checkup: Health Secretary Pick Still Up in the Air
THE WEEKLY CHECKUP: HEALTH SECRETARY PICK STILL UP IN AIR
February 5, 2019Christine Sexton
Hello, and happy Friday.

Why hasn't Gov. Ron DeSantis named a new secretary at the Florida Department of Health?

Word is he can't find a physician who is willing to support his position that people should be able to smoke medical marijuana. For DeSantis, support for smokable medical marijuana appears to be a litmus-test issue. It makes sense given the department is charged with administering the state's medical-marijuana laws.

But finding a Florida physician to be the public face who supports smoking medical marijuana hasn't been easy.

DeSantis interviewed former Department of Health Secretary Bob Brooks for the position in December, The News Service of Florida reported. Sources say DeSantis more recently interviewed Ormond Beach doctor Frank Farmer, also a former health department secretary.  Appointed by former Gov. Rick Scott, Farmer headed the agency for about one year but resigned to care for his wife Peggy, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Farmer was interested in returning to the position, but he doesn't support smoking medical marijuana, sources say.

DeSantis, meanwhile, has given lawmakers until March 15 , 10 days after the 2019 legislative session begins, to address the smoking ban. The ban was included in a sweeping 2017 law aimed at implementing a constitutional amendment broadly legalizing medical marijuana.  More than 71 percent of voters in 2016 approved the amendment.

DeSantis agrees with proponents of the amendment and a Leon County circuit judge that the smoking ban runs afoul of what voters approved. The new governor threatened to drop the state’s appeal of the judge’s ruling that the ban is unconstitutional. The appeal was filed by former Gov. Rick Scott's administration.

The ban on smoking medical marijuana will be discussed in House and Senate committees next week.

And speaking of agency appointments and Tallahassee meetings, Mary Mayhew, DeSantis' choice to serve as secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration, will appear before members of the Senate Health Policy Committee on Monday, according to the committee's agenda. The agenda notes that there will be an "introduction" of Mayhew to the committee and that no vote on her confirmation will be taken.

Most agency heads are subject to Senate confirmation, though some require approval from the Florida Cabinet.

RULES

AHCA has proposed amending  Rule 59A-8.002 and Rule 59A-8.003 relating to home health agency licensure and application forms. More here.

AHCA has proposed amending Rule 59A-5.003 to update ambulatory surgical center licensure requirements. More here.

The Board of Athletic Training has proposed amending Rule 64B33-2.003 to update and clarify language for requirements for continuing education. More here.

DEPARTMENT ORDERS

Department of Health officials this week lifted a restriction against Brittany Nicole Norman, R.N., License # RN 9287432.

CERTIFICATE OF NEED

The latest CON preliminary announcements are here.

IN REVIEW

—Legal matters ... The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has filed a lawsuit in Leon County circuit court arguing that it’s illegal for the state to require patients with HIV and AIDS in Southeast Florida to switch Medicaid managed-care plans by the end of the month. The lawsuit, filed Monday, is the latest move in a long-running fight between the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the agency about serving Medicaid beneficiaries in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. More here.

—Holy smokes ... A high-profile effort to repeal the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana morphed Monday into legislation that, according to the proposal’s author, would be worse for patients than doing nothing at all. More here.

—Holy smokes II ... Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is asking President Donald Trump to use his executive power to allow banks to do business with state-authorized medical marijuana companies. More here.

—Abortion bill filed ... A controversial abortion measure known as the “fetal heartbeat bill” has been filed in the Florida Senate, mirroring a bill filed last month in the House. More here.

—On advice of counsel ... Why judge’s ruling on patient brokering may upend prosecutions. More here.

—It’s in the air ... Hurricane Michael causes increase in respiratory issues. More here.

—Hefty price tag ... Bernie Sanders to Gables pharma firm: Why are you charging $375,000 for life-saving drug? More here.

—Long waits ... Orlando VA’s long waits for colonoscopies potentially endangered vets’ health, investigation finds. More here.

—Can I keep the car? ... Accused health insurance fraudster doesn’t want to lose his Lamborghini. More here.

—Fighting AIDS ... Trump vowed to "defeat AIDS” in his State of the Union. Florida is ground zero. More here.

—Open wide ... Nobody likes going to the dentist. But imagine you couldn’t find one at all. More here.

—Legal tussle ... Florida Blue gets legal win against Oscar Health in exclusive broker dispute. More here.

—Settlement ... Orlando ortho surgeon pays $500,000 to federal government for kickback scheme. More here.

—Settlement Part 2 ... Conway Lakes rehab disputes allegations in $1.5 million settlement. More here.

—Judge Not ... Groups target HIV/AIDS stigma. More here.

—We > AIDS ... Winter Haven salon owner continues mission of HIV protection. More here.

—Still smoking ... Florida fails to reduce tobacco consumption. More here.

CALENDAR

Monday, Feb. 11

1 p.m. A Board of Nursing panel will discuss cases where probable cause has previously been found. Call-in number: 1-888-585-9008. Participant code: 275112502#. A copy of the agenda is here.

2:30 p.m. The Senate Health Policy Committee will vote on a trio of bills. New AHCA Secretary Mary Mayhew also is scheduled to appear before the committee. Place: Pat Thomas Committee Room, 412 Knott Building. Agenda here.

4:30 p.m.  The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee will take up, among other things, a bill on sober homes. Place: 301 Senate Office Building. Agenda here.

Tuesday,  Feb. 12

9:30 a.m. AHCA will hold a hearing on proposed changes to Rule 59A-11.019, which converts the Center Annual Report form into an online reporting system. Place: Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Building 3, Tallahassee.

10:30 a.m. The House Health & Human Services Committee will consider a proposed committee bill on smoking medical marijuana. Place: Morris Hall, House Office Building. Agenda here.

1:30 p.m. The Senate Health and Human Services Approppriations Subcommittee will discuss biomedical research. Place: Pat Thomas Committee Room, 412 Knott Building. Agenda here.

2 p.m. The Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Ad Hoc Committee will meet. Call-in number: 1-888-585-9008. Participant code: 346983002. Agenda here.

3 p.m.The Florida Trauma System Advisory Council will hold a conference call to discuss the trauma system. Call-in number: 1-888-585-9008. Participant code: 325223031. A copy of the agenda may be obtained by contacting Michael Leffler at 850-558-9535 or [email protected]

Wednesday, Feb. 13

8 a.m. The House Health Quality Subcommittee will discuss a proposed bill on the Department of Health and a proposed bill on vaping. The committee also will hear a Medicaid presentation on telehealth. Place: Mashburn Hall, 306 House Office Building. Agenda here.

9:30 a.m. AHCA will hold a hearing on proposed Rule/59A-33.006 regarding exemptions from health-care clinic licensure requirements. Place: Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Building 3, Tallahassee.

10:30 a.m. The House Health Market Reform Committee will consider, among other things, HB 319 on patient safety culture surveys. Place: Mashburn Hall, 306 House Office Building. Agenda here.

1:30 p.m. The House Health Care Apppropriations Subcommittee will consider the budgets of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and the Department of Children and  Families. Place: Sumner Hall, 404 House Office Building. Agenda here.

Thursday, Feb. 14

Happy Valentine's Day.

9 a.m. The Board of Dentistry will hold a workshop about dental sedation.Place: Hilton UF Conference Center, 1714 S.W. 34th St., Gainesville. Agenda here.

9:30 a.m. AHCA will hold a hearing on proposed Rule/59A-8.005 regarding certificates of exemption for health care facility licensing. Place: Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Building 3, Tallahassee.

1:30 p.m. The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee will discuss the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Place: Pat Thomas Committee Room, 412 Knott Building. Agenda here  

6:30 p.m. The Board of Physical Therapy will meet. Place: Four Points by Sheraton Suites Tampa Airport Westshore, 4400 West Cypress St., Tampa. Agenda here.

Friday, Feb 15

7:30 a.m. The Board of Dentistry will meet. Place: Hilton UF Conference Center, 1714 S.W. 34th St., Gainesville. Agenda here.

8 a.m. The Board of Physical Therapy will meet. Place: Four Points by Sheraton Suites Tampa Airport Westshore, 4400 West Cypress St., Tampa. Agenda here.

2:30 p.m. The Board of Medicine Probable Cause Panel South will reconsider disciplinary cases with prior findings of probable cause. Call-in number: 1-888-585-9008. Participant code: 432162565.