Lead Stories

Bill Targets Insurers Changing Drug Coverage

No law in Florida prevents health insurance companies from changing the cost of a patient's prescription drugs -or from dropping coverage all together of that drug - in the middle of a 12-month contract. But a bill filed in the Florida legislature forces insurers to stick by those contracts.

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By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/25/2009 Florida Health News

TALLAHASSEE – Nearly 1,000 people, most of them middle-aged women, have signed up for a new state-promoted insurance program that requires participating companies to take all comers. 

Gov. Charlie Crist, who pushed the Cover Florida program last year, said Tuesday that the six insurance companies participating have fielded more than 10,000 calls from interested Floridians and that 952 people had enrolled as of March 15. 

By Carol Gentry
3/24/2009 © Florida Health News

Federal authorities have ordered private Medicare plans to stop paying hundreds of dollars in “referral fees” to sales agents who steer a beneficiary to a company for enrollment. The practice came to light in a Florida Health News article on Feb. 6.

Pill puzzle: flush or crush?

Mar 19, 2009

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/20/2009 © Florida Health News

A curious ritual occurs once a month at Palm Gardens nursing home in Tampa. 

Administrator Scott Allen, a pharmacist and the supervisor of nursing sort through drawers where painkillers, anti-depressants and other drugs are stored when patients die or leave. Usually they come up with about $5,000 worth.

It takes them about three hours to find all the leftover drugs, remove them from the packaging and fill out the paperwork. Then they dispose of them down the toilet.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/19/2009 © Florida Health News

Florida had 5.8 million residents who went without health coverage at some point in 2007-08, nearly 3/4 of them for more than six months, according to a report released today by Families USA.

3/19/2009 Florida Health News

Well, it's happened again: Florida scored worse than the national average, from a public-health standpoint, in all categories in a report on births for 2007. The state had a greater percentage of teen mothers than average and widened its lead over most other states in two categories -- births to unmarried women and the percentage of Caesarean births.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/18/2009 © Florida Health News

Two lawmakers have asked Gov. Charlie Crist to investigate a miscue by the Florida Board of Nursing, which met last month in violation of the Sunshine Law. Now the board will have to hold a do-over in April so that its actions will be official.

The legally required notice didn’t come out until Feb. 6, the last day of the three-day meeting in Tallahassee, according to State Rep. Denise Grimsley, a nurse, and Sen. Durell Peaden, a retired doctor.

WellCare hints it owes more

Mar 17, 2009

 3/17/2009 © Florida Health News

Without elaborating, WellCare Health Plans signaled on Monday that it may have to pay more than it had hoped to settle a fraud investigation that became public knowledge when the company's Tampa headquarters were raided by FBI agents in October 2007.

3/16/2009 © Florida Health News

A lot of doctors cite cost as the barrier to going paperless. Others need technical help. Today, University of South Florida announced an initiative to blow past both of those barriers: "PaperFree Tampa Bay."

By Carol Gentry
3/12/2009 © Florida Health News

For 20 years, Dr. Mark Kantzler has been getting into trouble with prescription painkillers, records show.. Sometimes it’s from his own addiction, sometimes from the prescriptions he writes. 

He’s been suspended from practice twice. A newspaper featured him in a 2003 series on dangerous over-prescribers. He paid a $700,000 settlement in 2003 for a patient’s death from a drug overdose and now is being sued in another death. 

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/12/2009 © Florida Health News

Gov. Charlie Crist’s proposed budget would remove a funding threat to five county health departments that was due to take effect in September as part of Medicaid Reform.

As Florida Health News recently reported, public health analysts were predicting county clinics would lose millions of dollars a year and no longer be able to care for the uninsured if the payment formula changed.

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