MEDICAID LAWSUIT LEGAL FEES A pediatric Medicaid case against the state, which lasted more than ten years, was settled out-of-court. The state will be required to provide significantly improved access to health care for Florida’s two million Medicaid children. As part of the agreement, the state will pay plaintiffs’ attorneys $12 million for legal fees. Should the state not fulfill its settlement obligations through 2022, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will be able to intervene and force a resolution.
KOSHER PRISON MEALS Responding to a 2012 U.S Justice Department directive, the Florida Department of Corrections filed an appeal with the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the provision of kosher meals to inmates based on religious preferences. The state is asking the appeals court to allow the prisons to suspend the practice in times of budget shortfalls. Florida currently spends $12.3 million annually to provide the special dietary meals.
ABORTION LAW U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle has blocked the enforcement of key provisions of an abortion law passed during the 2016 legislative session, just hours before it was scheduled to take effect. The judge blocked the portion of the law which would have prevented government funding for organizations that perform abortions in addition to other services. He also blocked the required annual inspection of half of Planned Parenthood patients’ records. The Governor elected to not pursue an appeal of this decision.
ALL ABOARD FLORIDA A federal judge in the District of Columbia has ruled that Indian River and Martin counties have standing in a suit they filed against the U.S. Department of Transportation. The counties are challenging the authorization from the Department allowing for the $1.75 billion in tax-free bonds for the financing of the private railroad connecting Orlando with Miami. Construction continues on the project with service scheduled to start in 2017.