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Senator Steve Geller Statement on Florida DEP Proposal to Increase Allowable Toxins in State Waters

Senator Steve Geller

Senator Steve Geller

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is currently reviewing the level of certain chemicals that can be discharged into Florida’s waters. It is proposing that the levels of over ½ of these be increased, including several known carcinogens. One of these chemicals is benzene, used in fracking. Many people believe that one of the main reasons for this re-evaluation is to increase benzene limits, to make fracking easier in Florida. The DEP is using a “Monte Carlo” method for calculating the acceptable standards which is not used by any other state or by the Federal Government. These changes will be voted on by the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission, a Governor Scott appointed body that hasn’t met in about two years. Of the seven Commission seats, two are vacant – the positions representing Local Governments and the Environmental Community. It is not acceptable to increase levels of known poisons and carcinogens that can be discharged into Florida’s waters using determination methods not used in any other state. Floridians need to organize and let our leaders in the Legislature and Cabinet know that we are opposed to this little-publicized attempt to harm Florida’s waters and potentially poison Floridians.

A shorter excerpt of this statement first appeared in the Sun-Sentinel on June, 26, 2016.

FL DEMS FACT SHEET: Affordable Care Act’s Impact in Florida

Health Care Accomplishments in Florida

After Health Reform: Improved Access to Care
  • Lowers the uninsured rate. Gallup recently estimated that the uninsured rate in Florida in 2015 was 15.7 percent, down from 22.1 percent in 2013.
  • Prohibits coverage denials and reduced benefits, protecting as many as 7,838,642 Floridians who have some type of pre-existing health condition, including 960,492 children.
  • Eliminates lifetime and annual limits on insurance coverage and establishes annual limits on out-of-pocket spending on essential health benefits, benefiting 5,587,000 people in Florida, including 2,170,000 women and 1,411,000 children.
  • Allows states to expand Medicaid to all non-eligible adults with incomes under 133 percent of the federal poverty level. If Florida expands Medicaid, an additional 750,000 uninsured people would gain coverage.
  • Establishes a system of state and federal Health Insurance Exchanges, or Marketplaces, to make it easier for individuals and small-business employees to purchase health plans at affordable prices. During the open enrollment period for 2016 coverage, 1,742,819 people in Florida selected a plan through the Marketplace, including approximately 731,984 new consumers and 487,989 young adults. In Florida, 82 percent of Marketplace consumers could have selected a plan for $100 per month or less after tax credits for 2016 coverage.
  • Created a temporary high-risk pool program to cover uninsured people with pre- existing conditions prior to 2014 reforms, which helped 11,873 people in Florida.
  • Creates health plan disclosure requirements and simple, standardized summaries so 7,731,600 people in Florida can better understand coverage information and compare benefits.
    After Health Reform: More Affordable Care
  • Creates a tax credit that, during the most recent open enrollment period, has helped 1,585,781 Marketplace enrollees in Florida who otherwise might not be able to afford it sign up for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • Requires health insurers to provide consumers with rebates if the amount they spend on health benefits and quality of care, as opposed to advertising and marketing, is too low. Last year, 821,814 consumers in Florida received $59,908,232 in rebates. Since this requirement was put in place in 2011 more than $2.4 billion in total refunds have been paid to consumers nationwide through 2014.
  • Eliminates out-of-pocket costs for preventive services like immunizations, certain cancer screenings, contraception, reproductive counseling, obesity screening, and behavioral assessments for children. This coverage is guaranteed for 7,289,873 people in Florida, including 3,024,126 women.
  • Eliminates out-of-pocket costs for 3,070,451 Medicare beneficiaries in Florida for preventive services like cancer screenings, bone-mass measurements, annual physicals, and smoking cessation.
  • Phases out the “donut hole” coverage gap for nearly 355,360 Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries in Florida, who have saved an average of $987 per beneficiary.
  • Creates Accountable Care Organizations consisting of doctors and other health-care providers who come together to provide coordinated, high-quality care at lower costs to 550,728 Medicare beneficiaries in Florida.
  • Phases out overpayments through the Medicare Advantage system, while requiring Medicare Advantage plans to spend at least 85 percent of Medicare revenue on patient care. Since 2009, Medicare Advantage enrollment has grown by 738,237 to 1,676,049 in Florida while premiums have dropped by 10 percent nationwide.
    After Health Reform: Improved Quality and Accountability to You
  • Provides incentives to hospitals in Medicare to reduce hospital-acquired infections and avoidable readmissions. Creates a collaborative health-safety learning network, the Partnership for Patients, which includes 129 hospitals in Florida, to promote best quality practices. Avoidable readmissions have fallen since 2010, saving 87,000 lives and $20 billion in health care costs, and the rate of one common deadly hospital acquired infection, central-line blood stream infections, fell by 50 percent from 2008 to 2014 nationwide.

We’re not done. Other legislation and executive actions are continuing to advance the cause of effective, accountable and affordable health care.This includes:

Advancing innovative care delivery models and value-based payments in Medicare and Medicaid. The Administration set goals of tying 30 percent of traditional Medicare payments to alternative payment models by the end of 2016 and 50 percent by the end of 2018, and met its 2016 goal 11 months early.

  • Proposals to invest in targeted research and technologies to advance the BRAIN Initiative, Precision Medicine Initiative, and cancer research.
  • A new funding pool for Community Health Centers to build, expand and operate health-care facilities in underserved communities. Health Center grantees in Florida served 1,197,948 patients in 2014 and received $502,975,163 through fiscal year 2015 under the health care law to offer a broader array of primary care services, extend their hours of operations, hire more providers, and renovate or build new clinical spaces.
  • Health provider training opportunities, with an emphasis on primary care, including a significant expansion of the National Health Service Corps. As of September 30, 2015, there were 354 Corps clinicians providing primary care services in Florida, compared to 167 clinicians in 2008.

Broward Dems Chair Mitch Ceasar on The Ed Show; Trump Explores Presidential Run

THE ED SHOW
3/18/15

Trump eyes DC based home

Donald Trump launches his exploratory committee, hoping to finally get hired for his dream job in the White House. Ed Schultz, David Brock, Mitch Caesar and Irina Vilarino discuss.

Broward Dems Chair Mitch Ceasar on NBC 6 Impact with Jackie Nespral

Mitch Ceasar talks about Florida’s 2014 year in politics.
Segment begins at the 14:00 mark

Post Election Note from Broward Democratic Chair Mitch Ceasar

From: Chairman Ceasar
Election 2014 is concluded and it was not a pleasant experience in Florida or nationally. However you should all be proud of your work during this cycle. You where magnificent. You volunteered for phone banks, knocked on doors, worked early voting and distributed Palm Cards.

The Crist Campaign had informed me that they needed a Broward margin of approximately 175 thousand votes. Broward delivered 176 thousand. With a turnout of almost 46 percent. This is a substantial increase over 2010. That was accomplished even through many of our senior super voters have been lost over the last four years. We spent advertising dollars in the minority community. This was about boosting turnout and “doing the right thing”.
We picked up numerous municipal seats by beating Republicans. In fact, the Coral Springs City Commission is now a Democratic majority. Additionally our north end folks ensured a return of Congresswomen Lois Frankel and State Senator Maria Sachs.

You performed all of these good works despite a National Republican wave. I so much appreciate your endless days of hard work. Thank you for being so awesome.

Broward Dems Chair Mitch Ceasar on the Ed Show

Democrats aim to make Florida ‘Scott-free’
Early voters in Florida are energized, based on the issues, and have been getting out the vote for Democratic Gubenatorial Candidate Charlie Crist. Ed Schultz traveled to Fort Lauderdale to speak with voters and candidate for Lt. Gov. Annette Taddeo. Mitch Ceasar and Adam Smith also join the conversation.

VIDEO: Broward Democratic Party Shares Why We Need to Vote this November

Broward Dems Chair Mitch Ceasar on The Ed Show

Rick Scott’s ‘Shady State’ politics

The Florida gubernatorial race heats up, with VP Biden and the First Lady heading down south to stump for Democratic Candidate Charlie Crist. Ed Schultz, Mitch Caesar and Ana Rivas Logan discuss.

Rick Scott deserves an F on public education

Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board | Friday, September 26, 2014 3:52pm

As he campaigns for re-election, Gov. Rick Scott portrays himself as a champion of public education who has increased spending, befriended teachers and ensured Florida’s schoolchildren will be better prepared for to enter college or the job market. His record is at odds with his rhetoric. In 16 years since Republicans took over the Governor’s Mansion and began pushing major education policy changes, no governor has been so coldly calculating and cynical about what happens to Florida’s traditional public schools.

From his first year backing steep budget cuts and nonsensical teacher assessments to his repeated favoring of private interests, Scott has all but ignored the state’s constitutional duty to provide uniform, high-quality and free public schools. The state has its fourth education commissioner in four years. The governor’s Board of Education has pandered to the tea party’s misinformation campaign on the Common Core State Standards, and it has set the stage for a potentially disastrous standardized testing change this spring. This is not the work of a governor engaged in enhancing the state’s investment in children but of a former CEO who treats education like an expense line to be managed and squeezed.

In four years, Scott has done far more to undermine public education than to support it.

Read More

Broward Dems Chair Mitch Ceasar on the Ed Show Discussing Rick Scott’s Environmental Plan

Missing piece to Scott’s environmental plan

Ed Schultz and Mitch Ceasar discuss Rick Scott’s plan to avoid climate change.