HNF Stories

HNF Stories
10:26 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Florida Matters: Sexual Assaults on College Campuses (LISTEN)

WUSF's Craig Kopp with Aaron Hubbard, Assistant State Attorney with the sex crimes division for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Hillsborough County (left), and Sabrina Griffith, the Associate Director of Residential Communities and Residence Life at the University of Tampa.

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 9:08 am

 A report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault says universities are not providing all the resources they can to protect students from sexual violence. Dozens of schools are under investigation for how they have handled sexual assault cases. 

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HNF Stories
3:41 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Meet the New Boss of USF Health

Dr. Charles Lockwood, the USF Health Senior Vice President and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, shared a number of thoughts with WUSF's University Beat.

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 3:42 pm

Since becoming the new senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine in early May, Dr. Charles Lockwood has sat down with every department he oversees at the University of South Florida.

The former Dean of the Ohio State University's College of Medicine is plotting a course for one of USF's flagship divisions as he takes over from Dr. Stephen Klasko, who led USF Health for nine years before leaving last June to become the president of Thomas Jefferson University and president/CEO of the Jefferson University Hospital System.

WUSF's Mark Schreiner talks with USF Health Sr. VP Dr. Charles Lockwood in this extended University Beat.

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HNF Stories
8:01 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Behind the Scenes at FMA

Lawrence Floriani, M.D.
Credit Dr. Larry Floriani

The Florida Medical Association surprised many this week when word came that its House of Delegates embraced a resolution calling for the legislature to expand Medicaid, the state-run program that's supposed to cover low-income people.

The money to do so, an estimated $51 billion over 10 years, had already been set aside by the federal government to begin in January this year, but the state House of Representatives refused to take  it. The FMA delegates want the Legislature to change its position.

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HNF Stories
11:12 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Capital Report: 07-25-2014

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 6:03 pm

This week voting rights groups presented their case for redrawing Florida’s electoral map immediately rather than waiting until after this year’s election.  But as Nick Evans reports, officials charged with conducting elections are doubtful the plan could work. 

Meanwhile, as Sascha Cordner reports, Monday is the last day for residents to register to vote in Florida’s August primary election.

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HNF Stories
10:45 am
Mon July 28, 2014

FMA Supports Medicaid Expansion

Dr. Aaron Elkin
Credit DrElkinMD.com

  The Florida Medical Association's House of Delegates overwhelmingly adopted a resolution supporting Medicaid expansion to cover uninsured low-income adults at FMA's annual meeting on Sunday, according  to doctors who were there.

(Editor's note: This story has been updated with the statement from FMA.)

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HNF Stories
7:39 am
Mon July 28, 2014

ER Workers to Spot Human Trafficking

Emergency room doctors and nurses are often the only contact victims of human trafficking have with the outside world, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said Friday while launching an initiative aimed to train emergency workers how to identify signs of trafficking.

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HNF Stories
7:32 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Federal Court Backs ‘Docs vs. Glocks’ Law

A Florida law restricting what doctors can tell patients about gun ownership was deemed to be constitutional Friday by a federal appeals court, which said it legitimately regulates professional conduct and doesn’t violate the doctors’ First Amendment free speech rights.

The ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned a previous decision that had blocked the state from enforcing the law.

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HNF Stories
7:24 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Lawmakers Near Deal on VA Health Care

Credit U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller

After more than six weeks of sometimes testy talks, House and Senate negotiators have agreed on a compromise plan to fix a veterans health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have scheduled a news conference for this afternoon to unveil a plan expected to authorize billions in emergency spending to lease 27 new clinics, hire more doctors and nurses and make it easier for veterans who can't get prompt appointments with VA doctors to obtain outside care.

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HNF Stories
7:12 am
Mon July 28, 2014

2015 Plan Renewals Not So Automatic

If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.

Insurance exchange customers who opt for convenience by automatically renewing their coverage for 2015 are likely to receive dated and inaccurate financial aid amounts from the government, say industry officials, advocates and other experts.

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Associated Press
9:10 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Feds Cap Fines for Not Buying Insurance

Federal officials have capped the amount of money scofflaws will be forced to pay if they don’t buy insurance this year at $2,448 per person and $12,240 for a family of five.

The amount is equal to the national average annual premium for a bronze level health plan. But only those with an income above about a quarter of a million dollars would benefit from the cap. Those making less would still have to pay as much as 1 percent of their annual income.

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HNF Stories
7:39 am
Fri July 25, 2014

FL Medicaid Overhaul Dings WellCare

Credit Tampa Tribune

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. saw its stock price plunge more than 20 percent at one point on Friday after announcing its second-quarter net loss of $7.5 million, due mainly to high medical expenses in connection with the expensive rollout of Florida Medicaid's statewide managed care program.

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HNF Stories
9:40 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Hispanic Health Advocates Push for Votes

An advocate dressed as Uncle Sam presents a check for uninsured Floridians. Advocates are urging state lawmakers to accept the money and expand coverage.
Credit Amy Green / WMFE

Advocates for health insurance are calling on Hispanics to get insured under the Affordable Care Act. And they're asking those same people to vote against lawmakers who oppose Obamacare.

Latino community leaders in Central Florida say more than 200,000 Hispanic Floridians are uninsured. They're urging state lawmakers to accept federal funding and expand health care for all Floridians.

Josephine Mercado of Hispanic Health Initiatives called it a human rights issue.

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Q&A: Meaning of Health Law Court Rulings

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

On Tuesday two U.S. appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on a subject that’s important to millions of people:  the availability of subsidies to help purchase coverage under the health-care law.  Kaiser Health New’s Mary Agnes Carey answers some frequently asked questions about those court decisions and how they impact consumers.

Q: What did the courts decide?

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HNF Stories
8:08 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Health Law Impact: 10M Gained Coverage

A new study estimates that more than 10 million adults gained health insurance by midyear as the coverage expansion under President Barack Obama's law took hold in much of the country.

The study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the share of Americans ages 18 to 64 without insurance dropped by a little more than 5 percentage points.

States that embraced the law's Medicaid expansion saw significant coverage gains among low-income uninsured people. About half the states have expanded, but not Florida.

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HNF Stories
2:18 am
Thu July 24, 2014

FL #1 in Rebates; Blue Owes $20M

Insurers must pay $41.7 million in rebates to Florida individuals and employers this summer, an amount that far exceeds refunds in any other state, according to a federal report released Thursday. 

Companies affiliated with Florida Blue in Jacksonville -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and Health Options Inc. -- owe a total of $20 million, nearly half of the total.

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HNF Stories
1:00 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Jobs Needing Less Education Growing

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Home health aides, medical assistants and other workers with less than a four-year college degree account for nearly half of the health care workforce in Florida and across the country, a new Brookings Institute analysis reports.

Between 2009 and 2011, a total of 3.8 million people in 10 different “pre-baccalaureate” fields worked in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, including eight regions in Florida, said Martha Ross, a Brookings fellow and author of the report released today.

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HNF Stories
5:49 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

FDA Rules Could Snuff Out ‘Cigar City’

Tuptim Ploysawon has worked at J.C. Newman Cigar Factory for almost five years.
Lottie Watts WUSF

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants to add new regulations to additional tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, pipe tobacco and cigars.

The proposed regulations are not going down well in Tampa's Ybor City, which has been rolling out cigars since 1886.

At the J.C. Newman Cigar Company, the machines hum and vibrate enough to shake the old wooden floor boards.

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HNF Stories
11:04 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Appeals Courts Split on Subsidies

US Court of Appeals, Washington, DC
Credit US Court of Appeals

An appeals court in Washington, D.C. issued a decision Tuesday that would wipe out an estimated $4.8 billion a year in subsidies to Florida individuals and families who signed up for a health plan on the federal health marketplace this year. That would make health insurance unaffordable to most of the nearly 1 million Floridians who enrolled.

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HNF Stories
8:21 am
Tue July 22, 2014

State Cracks Down on Medicaid Marketing

Florida has banned health insurance companies from marketing their plans directly to Medicaid recipients as the state rolls out its massive plan to privatize its health insurance program for low-income individuals and the disabled.

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HNF Stories
12:53 am
Tue July 22, 2014

FL Nursing Forecast: 50,000 Short

Mary Lou Brunell, Florida Center for Nursing
Credit University of Central Florida

Based on current trends, Florida will be short by more than 50,000 registered nurses by the year 2025, a nursing expert warned a committee of the State University System's Board of Governors on Monday.

While the number of nurse training programs in the state has doubled in the past four years, most of the students are emerging as licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses with just a two-year or associate's degree from college.

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Associated Press
9:10 am
Mon July 21, 2014

RJ Reynolds Fighting $23.6B in Damages

The nation's No. 2 cigarette maker is vowing to fight a jury verdict of $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. executive J. Jeffery Raborn has called the damages awarded by a Pensacola jury "grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law."

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Kaiser Health News
9:00 am
Mon July 21, 2014

FL Blue Signals Rate Hikes Ahead

Florida Blue CEO Patrick Geraghty
Credit Kaiser Health News

Florida Blue, the state’s dominant health insurer, snagged more than one in three consumers on the health law’s exchange this year, but many could face rate hikes as the carrier struggles with an influx of older and sicker enrollees, said the company’s top executive.

Several factors could drive up rates next year — including a paucity of younger and healthy enrollees and a greater-than-expected surge in people seeking expensive health services, CEO Patrick Geraghty said in an interview.

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HNF Stories
8:58 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

$4.8B in FL Subsidies at Stake

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

A court case challenging the Affordable Care Act's subsidies for plans sold on the federal marketplace could have an outsize effect on Florida, according to a new analysis.

A ruling is expected any day on Halbig v Burwell from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. If the government loses and further legal maneuvers fail, the 34 states that rely on the federal exchange would see a $36-billion loss of subsidies, three Urban Institute researchers project.

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HNF Stories
5:56 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

FL Mosquitoes Spreading Virus

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Health officials say a mosquito-borne illness that had afflicted Floridians who traveled to the Caribbean has now been transmitted within the state.

The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported the first locally acquired cases of Chikungunya. A 41-year-old woman in Miami-Dade County and a 50-year-old man in Palm Beach County are out of the hospital and recovering from the illness, which is serious but rarely fatal.

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HNF Stories
11:00 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

How HMOs Hid Rates on State Site

Health News Florida Editor Carol Gentry
Credit Lottie Watts

How much will it cost Floridians to buy coverage next year on Healthcare.gov? Lots of people want to know, but the insurers are keeping the prices secret in an unprecedented way.

(Editor's note: This is a conversation between WUSF All Things Considered Host Craig Kopp and Health News Florida Editor Carol Gentry.)

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HNF Stories
7:20 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Mentally Ill Inmates a National Problem

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The numbers, posted daily on the Cook County sheriff’s website, would be alarming at an urgent care clinic, let alone a jail: On a Wednesday, 36 percent of all new arrivals report having a mental illness. On a Friday, it’s 54 percent.

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HNF Stories
10:51 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Florida's Pain Killer Crackdown Has Results And Unintended Consequences

Sherry Benjamin of Fort Myers got addicted to pain killers after a slew of surgeries. Her addiction was fueled by the state's unfettered prescription pill crisis. But in 2011, state officials cracked down on medication like oxycodone. Like many other addicts, the crackdown left Benjamin with an addiction and no resources. So, she turned to other drugs. And experts warn there is going to be a surge of addicts finding solace in other more dangerous drugs, which could be Florida's next battle.

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 2:51 pm

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports prescription pill related deaths in Florida fell sharply in the past few years.

State officials have said it’s a sign laws aimed at cracking down on “pill mills” in the Sunshine State are working. But, addiction specialists say the crackdown has had some unintended consequences. 

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HNF Stories
10:46 am
Wed July 16, 2014

1,200 with Critical Needs Off Waiting List

 About 1,200 Floridians with critical needs will be getting enrollment letters from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities in the next two weeks.

Those with critical needs on the agency’s waiting list as of July 1 will be offered enrollment in the Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver.

Overall, there are 21,141 on the waiting list as of June 1, according to Melanie Etters, the agency's communications director.

The waiver provides personal care for people who need it, along with speech, behavioral and occupational therapy and respite for caregivers.

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HNF Stories
9:30 am
Wed July 16, 2014

81 Chikungunya Cases Tallied in FL

Credit Muhammad Mahdi Karim / Wikimedia Commons

State officials say the number of Florida travelers who contracted the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus has risen to 81.

Florida's Department of Health says 15 new cases of the virus were reported last week. Officials say all the patients documented in Florida contracted the virus while traveling in the Caribbean.

Chikungunya is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It was documented in 40 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe before it was first confirmed in the Caribbean late last year.

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HNF Stories
8:41 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Canna-Ed Day: Cannabis Entrepreneurs Bank On Amendment Two

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 6:40 am

  Armed with an MBA from Nova Southeastern University, horticulturist Carlos Hermida headed west to California, where he graduated as valedictorian from a for-profit college that trains individuals for the cannabis industry.

Hermida, a Miami native who now resides in Tampa, is one of the more than 200 interested parties – from doctors to security expects to current or potential patients – who attended Canna-Ed Day in Boca Raton Friday.

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