Juvenile detention cost split moves forward

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THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

A Senate committee Monday continued moving forward with a plan aimed at ending years of legal fights with counties about sharing juvenile-detention costs. But Senate sponsor Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said a key will be getting all counties subject to the costs to agree to drop litigation and create a “clean slate.”

Latvala told the Senate Rules Committee that all but two counties have agreed to such a condition, though he did not identify the counties. Monday’s approval by the Rules Committee prepares the bill (SB 1322) to go to the full Senate.

The bill would restructure the cost-sharing system for juvenile detention costs, leading to a 50-50 split between counties and the state. The legal fights in recent years have centered on arguments that the state has shifted too much of the tab for juvenile detention to counties.

The effect of the bill is that counties would pay a total of $42.5 million during the upcoming 2016-17 fiscal year, down from $54.3 million this year, according to a Senate staff analysis. The dispute affects 38 counties. The remaining 29 counties are considered “fiscally constrained” and aren’t required to contribute to juvenile-detention costs.

‘Direct primary care’ gets House support
In an issue that has received backing from doctors and small businesses, the House on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that would clear the way for “direct primary care” agreements in Florida.

Direct primary-care agreements generally involve monthly payments that patients or their employers make to physicians or other health providers. The payments cover patients’ routine primary-care services, cutting out the role of insurers.

The bill (HB 37), sponsored by Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach, would make clear that the agreements are not considered insurance and are not governed by state insurance laws –  a move that supporters say is needed to allow the agreements to go forward.

During a brief discussion before the vote, Rep. Mike Miller, R-Winter Park, called the bill an “important step forward” in providing quality, affordable health care. Supporters have said the agreements could help small businesses that can’t afford to provide full health insurance coverage to employees. They say small businesses could help pay for direct primary care, which would provide routine services.

The agreements, however, would not meet coverage requirements under the federal Affordable Care Act. A similar Senate bill (SB 132), sponsored by Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, has gone through committees and is ready for the Senate floor.

State agency plans Mexico trade mission
Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private business recruiting agency, is heading to  Mexico City. The “Export Development Trade Mission” is May 23 to May 26.

A news release noted that targeted industries in Mexico –Florida’s 10th-largest trading partner – include automotive parts, building material, environmental technologies, Internet services, medical devices, security services, telecommunications equipment and transportation infrastructure equipment.

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