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            United Gazette
                                         Weekly News from the Capitol
Issue: #6April 15, 2013
A weekly update during the Florida Legislative Session, highlighting how United Way is working to make our community a better place to live.
Top News: Medicaid Expansion Alternatives in House and Senate
This week, House and Senate committees will debate three health coverage alternatives to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  SB 1816 by Sen. Joe Negron (R-Palm City) would use federal funds to offer private coverage to a large portion of the currently uninsured; SB 1844 by Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville) rejects the federal funds and would cover a much smaller group of uninsured using only state funding. The House plan, PCB SPPACA 13-03, proposed by Rep. Richard Corcoran (R-Lutz) and Speaker Bill Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel), also rejects the federal money and uses state funds to provide $2,000 subsidies to an even smaller number of low-income Floridians.
Quick Links
United Way Priority Agenda Issue: Expand KidCare Eligibility

Florida has the third highest percentage (11.9%) and the second-highest total number (475,000) of uninsured children in the country.  SB 704 and HB 4023 amend Florida's KidCare law to allow legally residing immigrant children to get into the program without having to wait five years.  CS/SB 548 and CS/HB 689 would allow children to be presumptively eligible for the program so they don't have to wait to get health care.  Unfortunately these bills have been stalled in committees and seem unlikely to pass this session.  Read more.


Early Learning Bill Passes House, Heads to Senate


Last Tuesday, the House Education Committee passed its major early learning bill, HB 7165. The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee will amend its early learning bill CS/SB 1722 to mirror the House language and pass it this week.  Conceived as 'part one' of a multi-year reform of Florida's early learning system, it addresses House Education Committee Chair Marlene O'Toole's top priorities for the system:  accountability, transparency, governance and fraud.  Read more.
Child Care Wages Unchanged After 20 Years

A U.S. Census childcare study reports that while child care costs have nearly doubled in the last 25 years, from $84 per week in 1985 to an average of $143 per week 2011, the median wage for a full-time childcare worker ($19,680) is the same as it was in 1990.


Bills to Watch This Week:


Background Screening of Care Providers:  In 2010, the Legislature expanded care provider background screening requirements to protect vulnerable children, elders and disabled adults from abuse.  The 2012 Legislature created a Care Provider Background Screening Clearinghouse to consolidate and centralize criminal background check data from six state agencies.  CS/CS/HB 1021 and CS/SB 1112 further clarify requirements relating to screening and to the Clearinghouse.

Questions or Comments?
If you have questions or comments regarding the United Gazette and how United Way is working in Tallahassee to support your community, contact Ted Granger or Jess Scher.