HNF Stories

HNF Stories
5:38 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

The Only Certainty For Low-THC Marijuana Is Delay

A recent court ruling further delays implementation of Florida's low-THC marijuana program.

Originally published on Sat November 22, 2014 5:02 pm

  Next year, patients across Florida suffering from extreme seizures and a handful of other symptoms should be able to get their hands on low-THC marijuana, but exactly when next year is unclear.  An administrative court scrapped much of the proposed distribution framework last week.  That leaves stakeholders with hope for a better system, and certainty of a longer wait.

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HNF Stories
5:38 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

Eleventh Circuit Hears Appeal In Florida's Welfare Drug Testing Case

The Scott administration has pushed hard for a policy of drug testing welfare recipients.

Originally published on Sat November 22, 2014 11:00 am

  A plan for drug testing welfare recipients in Florida came before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals this week.  The American Civil Liberties Union is looking to the Fourth Amendment to challenge the policy.

Listen here.

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Dudek: Nursing Home Push May Spur Suits

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek

There’s a shortage of nursing home beds in Florida, and companies are flooding the state with applications to build. With hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, courts may have to sort out the winners and losers.

It’s been 13 years since the Florida Legislature put a hold on building new nursing home beds because of rising costs in the state budget.

That moratorium expired this year, and 163 companies are competing to build more 3,100 new nursing home beds in Florida.

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HNF Stories
8:05 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Parenting Program Launches In Certain Fla. Counties, Could Later Expand Statewide

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey speaking during a press conference about a pilot parenting program. He's joined by (left to right) Rep. Ritch Workman, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Sen. President Andy Gardiner, and Brevard State Attorney Phil Archer.

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 6:24 pm

Florida’s new House Speaker and Senate President helped launch a pilot parenting program in Tallahassee Wednesday.

Brevard State Attorney Phil Archer says it’s not unheard of for parents not to know what rights they have when disciplining their kids or how to hold them accountable.

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HNF Stories
1:33 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Small Firms May Not Want to SHOP

Brooke and Andrew Lee, owners of Roundhouse Creative Studios in St. Petersburg, buy their own health insurance. They are interested in the costs for a small business plan that could include their one fulltime employee.
Mary Shedden/WUSF

Brooke and Andrew Lee can't imagine being without health insurance.

So for the past seven years, that's meant digging deep into the earnings of their video production agency in St. Petersburg. It’s expensive, but Brooke Lee says the alternative is worse.

“Even though costs are high, I’ve just always been somebody who has health care. And I would be really nervous… for the unknowns to happen, some major accident or health problem that would put us out of business and pretty much ruin everything we’ve worked so hard on if we didn’t have health insurance,” she said.

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HNF Stories
5:39 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Grand Jury Targets Medicare HMO

Florida's insurance officials are recommending a state takeover and liquidation of Florida Healthcare Plus, a Medicare Advantage plan accused of submitting $25.2 million in phony bills to Medicare and Florida Medicaid.

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HNF Stories
10:11 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Florida DOT Looks To Trim Lanes To Increase Pedestrian, Cyclist Safety

Alton Road in Miami Beach is one of the thoroughfares facing changes through FDOT's complete streets program.

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 7:44 am

Three years ago a blistering assessment by a national advocacy group prompted the Florida Department of Transportation to get serious about making the state’s roadways safer for pedestrians and cyclists. After four Florida metropolitan areas were ranked as the most dangerous for pedestrians, FDOT leaders began to consider making design changes such as building narrower lanes.

Proponents of narrower lanes argue that wide, open lanes encourage motorists to hit the gas and endanger pedestrians, while narrow lanes force motorists to slow down.

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HNF Stories
10:02 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Rally Urges Lawmakers to Expand Medicaid

Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa

As the next crop of Florida legislators met for the first time in Tallahassee on Tuesday, health care advocates and the new leader of the Senate Democratic caucus pushed for Medicaid expansion. 

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HNF Stories
10:02 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Ex-Exec Guilty of $67M in Medicare Fraud

 A former top executive at a South Florida health care company has pleaded guilty for his role in a nine-year, $67 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Christopher Gabel of Davie, former chief operating officer at Hollywood Pavilion LLC, pleaded guilty Tuesday to health care fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

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HNF Stories
10:01 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Autopsy: Air Bag Injuries Killed FL Woman

Credit AP

 An Orlando woman died from injuries to her neck and head caused by a car collision and an exploding air bag, according to an autopsy report released Tuesday.

Plastic and metal fragments were scattered throughout the driver's side of Hien Tran's 2001 Honda Accord, and detectives found fragments of loose metal still in the deflated air bag, according to the report. The air bag had multiple tears and was bloodied.

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HNF Stories
6:47 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Hep C Drugs Cost FL Medicaid $30M So Far

This handout photo provided by Gilead Sciences shows the Hepatitis-C medication Sovaldi.
Associated Press

Florida Medicaid has spent at least $30.6 million in the past year on costly drug treatments for Hepatitis C, according to records from the Agency for Health Care Administration. 

Most of the spending was for Sovaldi, an antiviral approved by the Food and Drug Administration in December 2013. It was fast-tracked after clinical trials showed it had a high cure rate for patients in advanced stages of liver disease who were infected with the most common strain of the Hepatitis C virus.

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HNF Stories
9:03 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Feds Fall Short on Medicare Websites

Credit Wikimedia Commons

With many seniors facing high medical bills, a congressional investigation has found that federal government websites meant to give Medicare patients basic consumer tools instead fail to provide adequate information on out-of-pocket costs, and even quality of care.

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found that Medicare lacks clear procedures for getting useful information to consumers.

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HNF Stories
9:00 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Enrollment Push Moves To The Pulpit

Renard Murray, the regional administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spoke at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville.
Credit Abe Aboraya / WMFE

This weekend marked the beginning of open enrollment season, the time when uninsured Floridians can sign up for health insurance on HealthCare.gov. 

An estimated 1.5 million Floridians don’t have insurance. 

At Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville, Renard Murray, the regional administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services came from Atlanta to address the congregation of more than 300.

When asked who knows someone with high blood pressure, asthma or diabetes, almost everyone at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church raised a hand.

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HNF Stories
7:13 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Power of Price: Health Care & Health Costs

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 1:26 pm

Does this sound like a top health care CEO?

Or this?

Those are the comments of Baptist Health South Florida CEO Brian Keeley. Baptist Health is the largest faith-based non-profit health system in South Florida. It delivers $2 billion of health care to South Florida through seven hospitals, more than a dozen urgent care centers and various other specialty health centers. The Baptist business has more than 1,700 beds and serves more than 1 million patients per year. Keeley has been with Baptist for more than 30 years.

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HNF Stories
4:03 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

HHS Secretary Visits FL, Defends ACA

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell speaks with a woman enrolling for health insurance Monday at the University of South Florida enrollment event in Tampa.
WUSF

The nation's top health official says the ongoing legal dispute over the Affordable Care Act won't stop people who want insurance from signing up.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced it will consider a challenge to the law, which could eliminate subsidies for individuals who purchased plans in Florida and dozens of other states via the online marketplace known as HealthCare.gov.

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HNF Stories
1:30 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

ACA Health Premiums Up 10-15% in FL

The average monthly premiums for Affordable Care Act "silver plans" increased by double digits in most Florida counties for 2015, according to an Associated Press analysis.

In their analysis, AP reporters Mike Schneider in Orlando and Kelli Kennedy in Miami  compared premiums after averaging them for all silver plans, without taking subsidies into account. 

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HNF Stories
9:06 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Federal Health Secretary in FL Today

Credit U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

From a tailgating party with Gator fans in Gainesville to a beer festival in Pensacola, Floridians had plenty of opportunities Saturday to get in-person help signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. And as the second year of enrollment kicks off, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell is making a swing through Florida today to help get the word out.  

Burwell will make a stop in Tampa Monday morning at the Navigation Lab at the University of South Florida; she will be in Miami this afternoon.

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HNF Stories
9:04 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Insurance Exchanges Launch With Few Glitches

A Los Angeles furniture store worker who had never had health insurance enrolled in a plan for $75 a month that will cover both him and his son.

An unemployed accountant in Charlotte, N.C., who tried and failed to sign up last year found coverage for $11.75 a month.

A self-employed house contractor from West Palm Beach, Fla., found a health plan that will cost him nothing.

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HNF Stories
8:50 am
Mon November 17, 2014

FL Orders Drop in Workers' Compensation Rates

Florida regulators are approving a drop in workers' compensation insurance rates.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty this past week announced that he was approving a rate drop for insurers that provide coverage for on-the-job injuries.

Rates will drop overall by 5.2 percent. The rate change will take effect on Jan. 1.

This marks the first time that workers' compensation insurance rates have dropped in the last four years.

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HNF Stories
5:39 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Here to Help You Navigate ACA Year 2

Credit Megan Milanese

Open enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace starts on Nov. 15. The Health News Florida team is kicking off a series about the second year of open enrollment under the federal health law.

First, we take a look at HealthCare.gov, the website that people in Florida and 36 other states use to buy a health insurance plan.  This year, open enrollment runs for three months, until Feb. 15, 2015.

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HNF Stories
9:13 am
Thu November 13, 2014

43% of FL Medicaid Kids Miss Checkups

Credit U.S. Navy

Millions of low-income children - including almost half of those in Florida - are failing to get the free preventive exams and screenings guaranteed by Medicaid and the Obama administration is not doing enough to fix the problem, according to a federal watchdog report.

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HNF Stories
9:04 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Jury Awards $35M Damages to FL Smoker

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

A jury in Polk County has awarded $35 million in damages to a former Florida smoker who underwent two lung transplants.

The jury's decision Wednesday on behalf of 61-year-old Richard Boatright of Bartow against Philip Morris USA and the Liggett Group tobacco companies. The cigarette makers routinely appeal all such verdicts.

Attorney Sheldon Schlesinger says Boatright started smoking at age 12 and liked the cowboy used in Marlboro ads.

The case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 tossed out a $145 billion class action verdict.

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HNF Stories
8:57 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Insurance Lingo Boggles Consumers

The Kaiser Family Foundation has produced "Health Insurance Explained - the YouToons Have it Covered" to help consumers better understand industry terms.
Credit Kaiser Family Foundation

Signing up for health insurance is no fun, especially for those unfamiliar with the industry’s terms and concepts. And according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey, few people excel in that area.

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HNF Stories
8:42 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Re-Enrolling for Insurance? Expect Change

Phil Ammann, right, with his wife, Margaret.
Credit Lottie Watts / WUSF

    

Editor's note: Open enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace started on Saturday, Nov.  15. The Health News Florida team is kicking off a series about the second year of open enrollment under the federal health law. First, we take a look at HealthCare.gov, the website that people in Florida and 36 other states use to buy a health insurance plan.  This year, open enrollment runs for three months, until Feb. 15, 2015.

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HNF Stories
9:25 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Medicaid Expansion Still a No-Go in FL, TX

Texas and Florida, with their large uninsured populations, are not expected to offer coverage to many low-income patients. KHN’s Phil Galewitz and Mary Agnes Carey discuss:

MARY AGNES CAREY:  Welcome to Enrollment Encore: What you need to know before open enrollment in the health law’s marketplaces begins again on November 15th. I’m Mary Agnes Carey.

KHN Senior Correspondent Phil Galewitz joins me now to talk about Medicaid and the health law.

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HNF Stories
9:02 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Visit Florida to Promote Medical Tourism

Visit Florida says it's offering $2.5 million in grant money to increase promotion of medical tourism in Florida.

The state's tourism arm said Monday that two grants will be offered through Dec. 8. One will help promote the state as a medical tourism destination and the other markets the state for medical meetings and training promotion.

The money was approved by the state Legislature.

Each grant awarded under the new medical tourism promotion program will be matched by private dollars.

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HNF Stories
8:57 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Health Enrollment Goal Scaled Back

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell
Credit U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

With sign-up season launching this weekend, officials sharply dialed down expectations Monday for the second year of President Barack Obama’s health insurance law.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said she’s aiming to have 9.1 million paying customers enrolled in 2015 for subsidized private coverage through HealthCare.gov and state insurance markets.

That’s more than now, but well below the 13 million that the Congressional Budget Office had projected.

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HNF Stories
5:37 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

WellCare Questions Medicare Ratings

Medicare Advantage plans that draw a lot of their enrollment from the poor side of town say they're at a disadvantage on the government's five-star ratings scale, which commands respect and governs pay.

One company pressing the issue is WellCare Health Plans, based in Tampa. Its Medicare Advantage plans are rated at 3 or 3 1/2 stars, below the 4-star minimum required for plans to qualify for bonus payments. Plans' premium and bonus payments are kept confidential, but other media report that the bonuses amount to a few hundred dollars per member.

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HNF Stories
8:37 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Woman Survives 45 Minutes Without Pulse

A Florida mother is home and tending to her new infant less than a month after surviving without a pulse for 45 minutes following complications from a routine cesarean section.

A spokesman for Boca Raton Regional Hospital told The Associated Press on Sunday that a team of medical workers spent three hours attempting to revive the woman after a rare amniotic fluid embolism.

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Time For a HealthCare.gov Test Drive

Credit HealthCare.gov

Floridians who buy their own insurance can start shopping for 2015 plans on the federal marketplace on Saturday, but a sneak peek of prices is available now.

HealthCare.gov -- the website for residents in Florida and 36 other states -- opened for window shoppers over the weekend. In Florida, 10 different companies offer plans.

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