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COLUMN

Happytown

The week where we watched (and listened!) as ALEC threatened to buy Florida legislators off again, worried about the imminent privatization of...

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One of the most extreme initiatives she brought up was about tort reform, specifically an attempt to forbid people from suing pharmaceutical companies after a drug has been recalled, because, hey, it made it through the Food and Drug Administration!

Doug Clopp, deputy program director of liberal group Common Cause, added that ALEC was "in it for the long haul," saying that it took the group 25 years to make Utah in its corporate image, 20 years to do the same to Arizona, and many believe that Florida could be next.

Welcome to nowhere!

While we're alluding to meds and how much we need them to survive this ignominy, it's interesting to note that the Florida Pharmacy Association – which ostensibly has all of the happy pills we desire – filed a lawsuit against the state on July 26 based on the backlash to the state legislature's bizarro Medicaid privatization shell game and how it will disrupt the usual business of dispensing medication to the state's most needy. Wait, are we having a pill panic?

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the suit alleges that Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration has somewhat nefariously been drawing up deals with out-of-state HMOs for mail-order drug requirements, despite promises to do otherwise, or at least do so with some heavy regulation. Not so much.

"We have recently learned that over at least the last two-and-a-half years the agency has secretly been entering and awarding contracts that amount to just such a hand-off to HMOs in what we believe to be a full and illegal privatization of Medicaid for the majority of Medicaid patients," a representative for the group said in a statement.

AHCA is playing dumb on the allegations, naturally. Still, one of the named patients in the suit is an Orlando woman with cystic fibrosis who is "fearful AHCA will force her into an HMO," according to the Times.

Well, maybe that woman will be able to have her grievances heard when Gov. Rick Scott is keynote speaker at the Florida Health Care Association's conference here in Orlando on Aug. 1 at the Hilton Orlando. Probably not, though, as it appears to be a private affair. Wait, what could Scott possibly have to say about health care as a keynote speaker?

"Rick Scott was fine taking money from Medicaid and Medicare when he was profiting from it," says Organize Now's executive director, Stephanie Porta. Yeah, maybe that'll go over well.

Back on the subject of Nowheresville – or, rather, how the rest of the world sees us in the scalding context of real-life issues – it's good to know that our uglier sister Tampa keeps getting reamed by the national media over what kind of mess this year's Republican National Convention is going to be. We're so jealous! On July 26 (again! Everything happened on July 26!), the New York Times ran a true sociological gem when it blurted out the headline, "Strip clubs in Tampa are ready to cash in on GOP Convention." Of course, we're tripping over our lower lips with the constant recitation of "hookers and blow" as we slouch toward the last week in August, but this feel-good piece from the nation's paper of record made our jaws drop even further. Nobody of any suited import wants to comment on it, including RNC spokesman James Davis, who told the Times blankly, "We're expecting a great convention. We're focused completely on having a great convention."

Well, just so he knows, that great convention is likely to include Mons Venus, numerous other strip clubs and, of course, a Sarah Palin lookalike. "I wonder whether the look-alike will be able to see Russia from the stage?" Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn joked. No, but she may be able to see London. Or even France. Hopefully, knowing Tampa, she'll have a hard time seeing underpants!

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