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Insurers: 2015 exchange rates likely to spike

MIAMI (AP) - State insurance officials are preparing to release figures next week on how much health plans will cost under the Affordable Care Act for 2015, and rate increases seem inevitable as insurers say their new consumers are older and sicker than anticipated.

Top executives at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and Cigna said rate increases are likely but declined specifics. Humana proposed an average 14.1 percent increase for its HMOs, which the company said was driven by factors including increased prescription drug costs and doctor and hospital reimbursements. However, Molina has proposed an 11.6 percent average rate decrease.

Critics of so-called "Obamacare" warned of huge rate increases to signal the law isn't working. But rates have risen as much as 20 or 30 percent in recent years.


Appeals court upholds judgment against TD Bank

MIAMI (AP) - A federal appeals court has upheld a judgment for TD Bank to pay an investment group $67 million for their complicity in disbarred South Florida attorney Scott Rothstein's $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta made its ruling Tuesday. The original lawsuit was filed by Texas-based Coquina Investments. It claimed Rothstein used a TD Bank branch in Florida and some of its employees to persuade investors that the scam involving phony legal settlements was legitimate.

TD Bank has previously said that Rothstein was to blame for the fraud.

Rothstein is serving a 50-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in the case. His scheme involved investments in fake legal settlements.


Ethics complaints against Crist and Scott tossed

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Ethics complaints targeting both former Gov. Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott have been dismissed.

The Florida Commission on Ethics announced Wednesday that the panel found no legal reason to investigate the complaints.

The commission tossed a complaint filed by a top Republican Party of Florida official that alleged that Crist misused his office in December 2010 when he appointed a partner in the Morgan & Morgan law firm to a panel that nominates judges for appointment. Crist later joined the firm.

The commission stated there was nothing "factual" or "substantive" to support the allegation.

The ethics panel also threw out a complaint filed against Scott over investments his blind trust made in an oil service company that had ties to a company that applied for permits in Collier County.


Florida mother charged after baby left in minivan

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A Florida mother is facing a felony charge after leaving her 2-month-old baby in a hot minivan parked outside a doctor's office for about an hour.

Orange County Sheriff's Office officials said Wednesday that the woman is charged with child neglect. No other details, including the woman's name, were released.

The mother told investigators she was inside Timber Creek Pediatrics with her 9-year-old around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday when she realized she'd left the little girl in the van.

Orange County Sheriff's deputies say the mother rushed the baby into the clinic, where doctors were able to stabilize her.

The girl was then taken to Nemour's Children's Hospital, where she is recovering.


Moms: Inmates sickened after traveling in hot van

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Authorities are investigating after four inmates were left with little ventilation inside a prison van with no air conditioning during a 200-mile trip from Avon Park to a prison hospital and reception facility in Lake Butler.

The mothers of two of the men told The Ledger of Lakeland the guards ignored the inmates' pleas about the heat and didn't provide them water during trip on July 18.

According to the women, all four men were hospitalized upon arrival.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jessica Cary says two guards and four inmates were initially loaded into a van but were switched to another van because the air conditioner wasn't working. She didn't know how long they were in the first van.

The names of the inmates and guards haven't been released.


Appeal planned for Fla.'s docs vs glocks laws

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Doctors and health care providers challenging a Florida gun law say they will appeal a recent decision to uphold the measure.

A federal appeals court last week ruled that the law restricting what doctors can tell patients about gun ownership is constitutional and doesn't violate their First Amendment speech rights.

But the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence announced Monday that doctors represented by the center will appeal the 2-1 decision. The law firm involved in the court battle will ask the entire 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to review the ruling.

The law, which had become popularly known as "Docs vs. Glocks," was challenged by organizations representing 11,000 state health providers.

Doctors who break the law could potentially be fined and lose their licenses.


Man dies after diving for lobsters off S Florida

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Authorities say a man has died after diving for lobsters in the waters off South Florida.Pompano Beach Fire Rescue spokeswoman Sandra King says the 22-year-old man was on a professional dive boat Wednesday morning, diving for lobster in 40 feet of water.

King says the man was unconscious when he surfaced. He was brought to shore and authorities took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The man's name was not released.

Wednesday is the first day of the two-day lobster mini-season for recreational fishermen.


4 rescued after boat capsizes off Islamorada

ISLAMORADA, Fla. (AP) - The U.S. Coast Guard says four people have been rescued after their boat capsized off Islamorada in the Florida Keys.

Officials say the two men and two women were participating in Florida's Lobster two-day mini-season which began Wednesday.

The boaters were taken to Seabreeze Marina in Islamorada. No injuries were reported.

The Coast Guard encourages boaters to take advantage of complimentary safety checks provided by the Coast Guard Auxiliary to make sure their boats have the proper safety equipment readily available in case of emergencies.


1 dead, 1 sickened from flesh-eating bacteria

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - Sarasota County health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after one person died and another was sickened by a flesh-eating bacteria.

Officials said Tuesday that 11 cases were reported statewide in 2014 and 41 cases in 2013. The two Sarasota people who contracted vibrio vulnificus were middle-aged and had medically compromising conditions.

Vibrio is an infection caused by a bacteria found in warm salt water. It's in the same family of bacterium that causes cholera.

The Vibrio vulnificus bacteria occur naturally in coastal waters, especially in the summer months. Symptoms include stomach illness, fever or shock after eating raw seafood - especially oysters - or a wound infection after exposure to seawater or brackish water.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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