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Health News Florida

Anesthesiologists Fight AHCA over New Rule

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 The Florida Society of Anesthesiologists this week filed a legal challenge against the state Agency for Health Care Administration because of a new proposal dealing with anesthesiology services in ambulatory surgical centers. The challenge, which will go before an administrative law judge, argues that AHCA overstepped its legal authority in drawing up a proposed rule. At least in part, the challenge contends the rule would allow certified registered nurse anesthetists to supervise anesthesiologist assistants. "Nowhere in (state law) is a CRNA authorized to supervise others in the performance of anesthesia services,'' the challenge says. "Thus, the language of the proposed rule … contravenes these statutes by permitting a CRNA to supervise the delivery of anesthesia services independent of a physician." Earlier this year, anesthesiologists successfully lobbied against a legislative proposal that would have given broader powers to certified registered nurse anesthetists.

PALM BEACH JUDGE RULES AGAINST SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BAN

A Palm Beach County circuit judge ruled Tuesday that Florida's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional in a probate case involving a gay couple who married in Delaware. The decision by Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Diana Lewis was the fourth recent ruling finding that the ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, though the circumstances differed from the earlier cases. Lewis' decision stemmed from the March death in Pennsylvania of Frank C. Bangor, who owned property in Palm Beach County. Bangor was married to W. Jason Simpson last year, and Simpson sought to qualify in Florida as personal representative of the estate. He sought to qualify as a surviving spouse. But a constitutional amendment passed by Florida voters in 2008 defined marriage as being between "only one man and one woman" and said Florida would not recognize other marriages. Lewis sided with Simpson and found the ban unconstitutional as it applied to the case. "There is no justification in denying Mr. Simpson the privilege of acting as the fiduciary, based solely on the gender and sexual orientation of his now-deceased spouse,'' Lewis wrote. " 'The Marriage Laws' unnecessarily discriminate against this 'spouse,' who is recognized by other states as a 'spouse,' to act as a fiduciary. Clearly, it was Mr. Bangor's intent that Mr. Simpson serve as his personal representative and inherit all of his property." Lewis' decision followed other recent rulings in Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties that found the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The earlier decisions have been stayed pending appeals.

MONEY FLOWS TO FIRM IN REDISTRICTING CASE

Two committees linked to incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, have paid nearly $150,000 during the past month to a Gainesville political-consulting firm embroiled in a legal fight about redistricting records, according to finance reports submitted to the state. The committees, known as the "Space Coast Liberty Caucus" and "The Committee for a Better Florida,'' have paid $148,510 to Data Targeting, Inc., since July 9 for what are described as advertising expenses. The committees' websites say they are associated with Gardiner, who is slated to become Senate president after the November elections. Data Targeting, Inc., has been at the center of a battle about whether records it produced should have been introduced in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of congressional districts approved by lawmakers in 2012. Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis struck down the map, which has necessitated a special legislative session starting Thursday. During the case, Lewis used the records, but they have remained shielded from public view. The records issue is now at the Florida Supreme Court, and media companies have filed a brief arguing that the documents should be unsealed.