HNF Stories

HNF Stories
9:36 am
Tue July 7, 2015

Docs Call For More Oversight After Infant Deaths

Credit St. Mary's Medical Center

 After the deaths of five infants, a team of doctors from across the state was asked in 2014 to review a Palm Beach County hospital's highly specialized program for doing heart surgeries on children.

The team's recommendation: St. Mary's Medical Center should not perform heart surgeries on babies under 6 months old because the program did not handle enough cases to maintain the expertise needed for quality care.

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HNF Stories
9:32 am
Tue July 7, 2015

Kratom Users Dodge A Legislative Bullet In FL

Kratom users are celebrating after the Florida Legislature failed to begin a crackdown on the controversial Southeast Asian plant. But the fight isn’t over.

A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration fact sheet lists Kratom as an addictive substance that’s mildly stimulating or, in large doses, “profoundly euphoric.”

Susan Ash, executive director of the American Kratom Association -- and a Lyme disease sufferer -- calls it a lifesaver.

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HNF Stories
9:30 am
Tue July 7, 2015

Winter Park Hospital Plans $90M Expansion

Winter Park Memorial Hospital plans to add 160 hospital beds in a five-story tower, and add to the ER.
Credit WMFE

Winter Park Memorial Hospital hopes to start construction at the beginning of 2016 on a major expansion. The $90 million expansion would double the emergency room and add a five-story, 160-bed tower.

If all goes according to plan, the hospital would add 26 bays to its ER by the end of 2016 and open the new tower by the end of 2017. Hospital Administrator Ken Bradley says the hospital is looking to build now because the community is growing: In particular, senior citizens.

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HNF Stories
8:59 am
Tue July 7, 2015

DJJ Secretary Daly Unveils Expansion Of Agency's Anti-Human Trafficking Tool

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Christy Daly during a meeting of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking last month.

Originally published on Mon July 6, 2015 5:55 pm

The head of Florida’s juvenile justice agency is hailing the expansion of a new tool to help in the state’s anti-human trafficking efforts.

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HNF Stories
9:08 am
Mon July 6, 2015

State Sees Sharp Spike In Number Of Children In Foster Care

 The number of Florida children in the state's foster-care system has reached its highest level since 2008 --- driven by both a spike in the number of kids being removed from their homes and a drop in the number being discharged after a stint in foster care.

In the last 24 months, the number of children in what's known as out-of-home care has reached 22,004 statewide, up from 17,591 in 2013.

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HNF Stories
9:03 am
Mon July 6, 2015

Miami Judge Sentences 5 In $25M Medicare Scheme

Five people have been sent to federal prison for their roles in a $25 million Medicare fraud scheme that involved people from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic posing as U.S. patients.

The sentences imposed last week by a Miami federal judge ranged from 15 months to four years. The five defendants are among 10 who have pleaded guilty after they were charged last year in a 36-count grand jury indictment.

One person, 70-year-old Jose Eloy Sanchez, remains at large and is believed to be in Nicaragua.

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HNF Stories
9:00 am
Mon July 6, 2015

Court Rules Against Some Malpractice Damage Caps

 A Florida court has ruled that caps on certain damages in medical malpractice lawsuits do not apply in personal injury cases.

The Legislature in 2003 established $500,000 limits on non-economic damages for such cases. Last year, the state Supreme Court ruled they don't apply in medical malpractice cases involving wrongful death.

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HNF Stories
12:04 pm
Sun July 5, 2015

On The Rebound, Panthers Prowl Expanding Swath Of Land In Florida

Panthers roam in rural Collier County, in southwest Florida. As the Florida state animal's population has grown, wildlife officials may seek to take the panther off the endangered species list.
Courtesy of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Originally published on Fri July 3, 2015 6:31 pm

In Florida, the official state animal triggers mixed feelings. The Florida panther has been on the endangered species list for nearly 50 years. From a low point in the 1970s when there were only about 20 panthers in the wild, the species has rebounded.

Now, nearly 200 range throughout southwest Florida. And some officials, ranchers and hunters in the state say that may be about enough.

Florida panthers are a subspecies of the cougar or mountain lion. They're slightly smaller than their cousins, but like them, the panthers need lots of room to roam.

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HNF Stories
10:43 am
Sun July 5, 2015

Aetna To Buy Insurance Rival Humana For $37 Billion

Originally published on Fri July 3, 2015 6:31 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Aetna, one of the biggest health insurance companies in the U.S., has announced a $37 billion deal to buy its rival Humana. This is a merger that could impact Medicare patients around the country, as NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports.

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HNF Stories
12:01 pm
Fri July 3, 2015

Aetna Announces $37 Billion Merger With Health Insurance Rival Humana

Health insurance giant Aetna has announced a $37 billion plan to acquire rival Humana.
Jessica Hill AP

In what could prove the largest-ever merger in the insurance industry, Aetna has announced a $37 billion deal to acquire rival Humana.

The agreement, announced by the Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna, "would bolster Aetna's presence in the state- and federally funded Medicaid program and Tricare coverage for military personnel and their families," according to The Associated Press.

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HNF Stories
9:04 am
Thu July 2, 2015

Special Session Over, Spotlight On Hospitals Continues

The commission also met in Tampa on June 17.
Credit Lottie Watts / WUSF

A panel formed by Gov. Rick Scott to examine the finances of hospitals and other parts of the health-care industry held its first meeting Wednesday since the end of two legislative sessions dominated by those issues, as Scott signaled he would continue pushing for changes.

The governor's Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding met in Jacksonville to hear from local hospitals --- and particularly UF Health Jacksonville --- and to consider data on executive compensation and the quality of care around the state.

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HNF Stories
6:28 pm
Wed July 1, 2015

Loved Ones Remembered With Cremation Jewelry

Nelson Jantzen memorialized his deceased wife, Dianne, by incorporating her ashes into this fused glass pendant. The ashes are sealed inside the cat's face.
Daylina Miller/Health News Florida

 When someone dies, a lot of people honor the memory of a loved one with a funeral.

Those who chose a traditional casket burial spend about $7,000 or more. A service that includes a cremation costs about a third of that.

But there’s a growing number of people who want to remember their loved ones long after the funeral ends in a different way.

One Tampa Bay area artist creates a memorial with a non-traditional twist.

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HNF Stories
9:11 am
Wed July 1, 2015

Written Consent No Longer Needed For HIV Test

A new law in effect July 1 makes it easier to get an HIV test in health care settings.
Credit WMFE

A new Florida law kicking in today makes getting an HIV test easier. Doctors no longer need written consent to give patients an HIV test in health care settings, like doctor’s offices and hospitals.

The law could have a big impact in Florida, which has more new HIV infections than anywhere else in the country.

Jesse Fry is a policy analyst with the AIDS Institute in Tallahassee. He said an estimated 18,000 Floridians have HIV and don’t know they have the virus, according to the institute. 

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HNF Stories
8:54 am
Wed July 1, 2015

Vaccine Access Expands At Pharmacies

Credit WMFE

Floridians will be able to receive more vaccines at their local pharmacies under a law that takes effect Wednesday.

Pharmacists are already able to administer vaccines that fight some viruses, like influenza and shingles, but the new measure (HB 279) would add several others, including shots targeted at measles, mumps and rubella; tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (or whooping cough); and human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cancer.

The new law will also allow pharmacy interns to be certified to give vaccines.

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HNF Stories
7:21 am
Wed July 1, 2015

‘Right to Try’ May Be Hard to Implement

The Goldwater Institute has created a website to convince drug companies and the Food and Drug Administration to cooperate with states that have Right to Try laws.
RighttoTry.org

While the “Right to Try Act,” which aims to give dying patients the right to try unapproved experimental drugs, is law in Florida as of today, its implementation isn't so clear.

In theory, the Right to Try law allows terminally ill patients access to drugs that have passed first-phase clinical trials and are going through later-stage trials as part of a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration.

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HNF Stories
3:17 pm
Tue June 30, 2015

Judge Blocks Abortion Waiting Period Law

A Florida judge is blocking a new state law that requires women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion.

Tallahassee Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis on Tuesday blocked the law today, a day before it was scheduled to take effect.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit after Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law. They argued that the law violates the right to privacy guaranteed in the state constitution by interfering with the right of women to undergo the procedure.

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HNF Stories
8:45 am
Tue June 30, 2015

SCOTUS OK's Florida's Execution Method

The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the method of execution used in just two states, including Florida.

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 6:21 am

Florida’s lethal injection procedure is constitutional according to a decision out Monday from the U.S. Supreme Court, the final day of decisions for this term.

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HNF Stories
8:28 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Fake Service Animals Could Lead to Jail

Credit Wikimedia Commons

A new Florida law taking effect July 1 will make it a misdemeanor to pass off an unqualified pet as a service animal.

The law, proposed by state Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, will make misrepresenting a dog as a service dog a second-degree misdemeanor. The offense is punishable with up to 60 days in jail and 30 hours of community service for an organization that services people with disabilities, to be completed in less than six months.

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HNF Stories
8:13 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Eye Doc Awaiting Trial May Be Released

Credit Associated Press

A Florida doctor charged with corruption alongside New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez appeared closer to being released from jail Monday as an agreement about his bond solidified.

A hearing in federal court in West Palm Beach ended with no formal decision on Dr. Salomon Melgen's release, but U.S. Magistrate Judge James Hopkins said he hoped to issue an order Wednesday in the Medicare fraud case.

Hopkins ruled last month that Melgen should be held until he stands trial in the Medicare case, which is separate from corruption charges he faces with Menendez in New Jersey.

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HNF Stories
8:05 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Florida Asks to Resume Executions

Credit California Department of Corrections

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is asking the state Supreme Court to allow officials to execute a man convicted of murdering four people in Orlando.

Bondi asked the court Monday to lift the stay on the execution of Jerry Correll now that the U.S Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a sedative that is used in lethal injections in Florida.

She also said in a statement the U.S. Supreme Court ruling should allow the state to move forward with future executions.

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HNF Stories
7:54 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Study Finds Ciguatera Poisoning Far More Common Than Believed

Scientists strongly advise against eating barracuda, which are the most common carrier of the ciguatera toxin.

Originally published on Mon July 6, 2015 5:57 pm

Ciguatera poisoning is far more common in Florida, especially South Florida, than previously believed based on public health records, according to a new study from the University of Florida and the state Department of Health.

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HNF Stories
10:44 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Insurance Regulators To Cap HIV Drug Costs

Credit MGN Online

Florida insurance regulators will start reviewing health plans for discriminatory practices after three insurers were accused of charging higher prices for HIV drugs.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation announced it will review 2016 plans available on HealthCare.gov in Florida for possible discriminatory practices in their coverage of all prescription medications, and will also limit patient cost-sharing of HIV medications to reasonable co-pays.

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HNF Stories
11:55 am
Mon June 29, 2015

MAP: Lethal Injection By Far The Most Popular Execution Method In U.S.

Lethal injection map
Chris Groskopf/NPR

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 4:46 pm

States may continue using a popular but controversial drug in lethal injection executions, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a 5-4 decision.

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HNF Stories
9:03 am
Mon June 29, 2015

More With SNAP Buying From FL Farmers

Credit Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons. / WMFE

Food stamp recipients in Florida are buying a lot more from farmers and farmers markets.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says expanding access to fresh produce for SNAP recipients has been a top priority.

Redemptions under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly the Food Stamp program, have ballooned since 2008 by more than a thousand percent.

Amy Rupert-Secol is chief vegetable officer at Homegrown, a Central Florida food co-op. She says even more could be done to get low-income families to shop local.

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HNF Stories
4:36 pm
Sun June 28, 2015

Florida Healthcare Fights Continue After U.S. Supreme Court ACA Ruling

Originally published on Fri June 26, 2015 4:57 pm

The fight over the future of Healthcare in Florida is not over, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling reaffirming the Affordable Care Act. The Court has upheld subsidies for nearly nine million Americans who purchased health insurance on the federal government’s insurance exchange. Some hope the court’s latest ruling could push states like Florida, to fully implement the law.

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HNF Stories
4:34 pm
Sun June 28, 2015

Officials Say Just A Few Minutes Now Makes A Difference In An Emergency

Originally published on Fri June 26, 2015 5:37 pm

More than 10-million people have signed up for the state’s Emergency Contact Information System. It lets drivers add information to their licenses, giving the name and phone number of someone they’d want police to call in an emergency.

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4:30 pm
Sun June 28, 2015

What You Need To Know About SCOTUS' Health Care Ruling

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 9:41 am

In a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of subsidies to buy health insurance on the federal health care marketplace, Healthcare.gov.

The central question was whether residents of Florida and 33 other states should be allowed to use their subsidies on an exchange their state did not set up for itself.

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8:43 am
Fri June 26, 2015

AG Bondi, Human Trafficking Council Identify Areas That Still Need Work

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaking during Thursday's Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, while Martin County Sheriff William Snyder, among other panel members, listens.

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 7:10 pm

While the state has made new strides in efforts to combat human trafficking, a statewide panel convened by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says there are still areas that need some work.

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10:58 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

Court: Florida Can Keep HealthCare.gov Subsidies

U.S. Supreme Court

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on health subsidies keeps intact the way more than 1 million Floridians buy and pay for insurance through HealthCare.gov.

The justices said in a 6-3 ruling Thursday that the subsidies that 8.7 million people currently receive to make insurance affordable do not depend on where they live, under the 2010 health care law.

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6:00 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

Living With HIV a Rollercoaster

Will Blair was diagnosed with HIV May 20, 2014. He says the last year has been a roller coaster.
Abe Aboraya Health News Florida

Will Blair can describe his family in three words: southern, conservative, Baptist. 

“I’m kind of the black sheep,” he said.

Blair was 17 and living in rural Lake County when he came out as gay to the grandparents raising him.

Last year, at 32, he had to come out a second time: as HIV positive.

“It’s hard dealing with letting the people close to you know,” Blair said. “Because some people, even the ones close to you, even though they’re talking to you and you hear the words coming out their mouth, you know that behind what they’re saying is judgment.”

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