Bill would keep Cuban-trained doctors from practicing in Florida
4:23 PM EDT, March 18, 2008
Americans who get their medical degree in Cuba wouldn't be allowed to
practice medicine in Florida under a bill discussed by the House Health
The panel didn't vote on the bill (HB 685) but could as early as next week.
The measure is aimed at students who accept scholarships from the Cuban
government to attend the Latin American School of Medical Sciences in
About 150 American students are currently enrolled in the school and
would be affected, according to information provided to the committee by
the bill sponsor, Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah.
According to the information provided by Gonzalez, eight American
students have graduated from the school and are currently practicing in
the United States, but none are working in Florida. Since no graduates
of the program have Florida medical licenses, the bill would only affect
those graduates who try to become licensed here in the future.
The scholarship program, coordinated by an organization called the
Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, takes advantage of
an exception in the U.S. embargo of Cuba for educational programs. The
scholarships are open to Americans who go to Cuba for a 6-year medical
school program and then agree to return to the United States to practice
medicine in poor or underserved communities in the United States.
If the measure were to pass, Florida would be the first U.S. state to
bar graduates of the program from practicing medicine here.
Lawmakers can't let current budget problems keep them from adequately
maintaining the state's roads, bridges and other infrastructure, a group
of engineers said.
Florida will need to spend $200 billion over the next 20 years to
maintain and improve its deteriorating infrastructure, according to a
report by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The report gave the state letter grades in 11 different categories, with
an overall grade of C for the state's infrastructure. Bridges received
the highest grade with a B+, followed by wastewater systems with a B-.
The worst grades went to schools and energy, which both received a D+.
“Much of our infrastructure is sliding toward failure, and the prospect
for any real improvement is grim,'' said Fraser Howe, a board member for
the society's Florida chapter. “If we treated our homes like we treat
our infrastructure, we'd all be living in 50-year-old block bungalows on
the verge of collapse.''
The state is underfunding its infrastructure and needs to develop a
major, long-term funding program, said Rep. Stephen Precourt, R-Orlando.
Possible funding sources could be an increase in gas taxes or a tax
based on the number of miles driven per year.
On the Net: Florida Legislature: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/