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The Point, March 24, 2022: Florida families with critically ill children had problems with a Medicaid vendor. Now the state has fined the vendor millions of dollars

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The stories near you

• Mainstreet Daily News: BOCC allows pay increase, 609-acre land purchase. "Prompted by inflation levels, the county decided to advance a pay increase for employees instead of waiting until the end of the fiscal year in October when raises usually happen. Alachua County Manager Michele Lieberman said the raise would be $1,000 a year to each employee’s salary, but because the county is halfway through the fiscal year, employees will see $500 in the six months left."

• Gainesville Sun ($): Commissioner eyes big plans for east Gainesville sports complex after Alabama tour. "City Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut has big dreams for her recently proposed sports complex in east Gainesville. Chestnut, who is in her second month on the job, said she would like to incorporate features from event centers that she toured while in Birmingham and Hoover, Alabama, earlier this week."

• The Alligator: UF no longer expects masks on campus. "Now, the university supports and welcomes masks if people choose to wear them. Masks will still be required in health care centers where patients are treated, like UF Health Shands Hospital."

• WUFT News: One Gainesville student’s journey through childhood illness and Dance Marathon. "Elizabeth ‘Elie’ Chapman is a 15-year-old freshman at Gainesville High School. She’s a setter on the junior varsity volleyball squad and currently plays for the Gainesville Juniors Volleyball club team. She enjoys school. She dreams of traveling the world one day."

• WUFT News: High Springs receives $3 million in relief money. "During the workshop, the city commission listened to community comments that ranged from the police department, fire department, public works, and even parks and recreation. Each department spoke about what they needed in order to continue to serve the residents of High Springs."

• Florida Politics: Citrus County commissioners say tax hike may be needed. "Citrus County’s property tax rate, which has dropped steadily the last six years, could be jumping to pay for high-profile programs that citizens say they want. During a preliminary budget discussion Tuesday, county commissioners said they generally supported increasing the property tax by nearly a half mill to help fund mental-health services, residential road resurfacing and emergency medical services."

• Fresh Take Florida: Elementary school music program extended in some Florida classrooms. "Richard Corcoran, the commissioner of education, selected school districts based on the school district’s proximity to the University of Florida and what was described as needs-based criteria established by the State Board of Education. The program is possible through a bill that passed unanimously through the House and Senate. Gov. Ron DeSantis was expected to sign the latest appropriation."

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Around the state

• Fresh Take Florida: Florida fines largest Medicaid payment vendor nearly $9.1 million over billing glitches. "The payment problems left families in Florida with critically ill children who relied on Medicaid-paid health providers stranded. They affected children receiving care under the company’s Sunshine Health Medicaid program and the Children’s Medical Services Health Plan it operates on behalf of the Florida Department of Health, for patients under 21 who are eligible for Medicaid and who have serious, chronic conditions."

• WUSF: Florida university faculty react to legislation that would change tenure requirements. "The provision would let the Florida Board of Governors adopt a uniform standard for post-tenure reviews that would be done every five years. It was added in the final days of this year’s session to a bill that would also require the state’s public universities to change accreditors every cycle."

• Fresh Take Florida: After defeat, Tampa lawmakers vow to push abandoned Black cemeteries bill in next session. "The state senator who proposed a bill to catalog and restore abandoned African American cemeteries across Florida said she is disappointed the legislation died in the just-ended session at the Capitol but isn’t giving up the fight."

• WMFE: Warm weather boosts manatees, prompts wind-down of supplemental lettuce. "The program will be discontinued in about two weeks. By then some 200,000 pounds of lettuce will have been provided at a Cape Canaveral power plant, where the cold-sensitive manatees gather for warmth during the winter."

From NPR News

• World: U.S. officially declares that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine

• World: Putin demands 'unfriendly countries' pay for Russian gas in rubles

• Health: Evidence grows that vaccines lower the risk of getting long COVID

• National: Idaho prepares to ban most abortions in the state as governor signs Texas-style law

• National: Madeleine Albright, the first woman to become U.S. secretary of state, has died

• Politics: GOP questions for Jackson in her hearings were about midterm messaging — 4 takeaways

• Technology: Beloved creator of the GIF dies following complications from COVID, wife confirms

About today's curator

I'm Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I've found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today's edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news