HNF Stories

HNF Stories
6:44 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Millennials: Tech Not Only Health Solution

GuideWell is testing an interactive bathroom mirror, which provides regular health updates and reminders each morning.
Mary Shedden WUSF

There are a lot of stereotypes out there about the millennial generation: they’re disengaged and hyper-focused on technology.

But someday, these 80 million Americans born between 1980 and 1999, will be needing health care. And a lot of it.

That's why the second MediFuture conference this week in Tampa asked a panel of college students for some insight. While the five men and one woman say they may not be using the health care system much now, it's important medicine doesn't assume that technology is all they care about.

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HNF Stories
1:35 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

The Secret Price of Health Care: Transparency

 We’ve been hearing a lot about how health care prices are kept secret in this state.

As WLRN and the Miami Herald have been documenting all this week, the tangle of employers, insurance companies and providers makes shopping for health care and health insurance difficult enough — but underneath that web is a layer of secrecy that prevents consumers from seeing what actually gets paid for care. 

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HNF Stories
10:18 am
Thu September 18, 2014

CEO: GuideWell, Not FL Blue, Our Focus

GuideWell Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Pat Geraghty
Credit Kaiser Health News

Any doubt that Florida’s largest health insurer wants to expand its reach was quashed by its chief executive Wednesday, when he heralded the success of its new umbrella company and outlined ambitious plans for growth.

GuideWell, launched as a parent of Florida Blue, reaches more than 15 million people through its insurance, consumer, health care and government administration products, Chairman and CEO Pat Geraghty told participants at the Medifuture conference in Tampa.

Less than half are traditional Florida Blue policy holders.

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HNF Stories
8:50 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Miami Science Museum Gets $5M for Health Programs

Baptist Health South Florida is giving $5 million for health and wellness programs at the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science being built in downtown Miami.

The Baptist Health People & Science Gallery will be located inside the museum. Some of the funding also will pay for transportation for Miami-Dade County public school students to visit the museum.

Museum President and CEO Gillian Thomas says the gallery will teach people "how to make better choices for a healthy life."

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HNF Stories
8:43 am
Wed September 17, 2014

The Secret Prices Of Health Care: How What You Don’t Know Can Cost You

Health care pricing is shrouded in secrecy.

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 8:36 am

When Uwe Reinhardt tries to explains the Gordian Knot of hospital pricing to his health care economics students at Princeton University, he has a go-to metaphor:

“It's almost like blindfolding people, shoving them into Macy's and saying, ‘buy — efficiently — for a shirt.’ Well you come out with a pair of shorts,” says Reinhardt.

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HNF Stories
4:28 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Uninsured Rate Remains Unchanged in FL in 2013

The rate of Floridians without health insurance stayed the same in 2013 from the previous year, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Twenty percent of Floridians lacked health insurance last year, down slightly from a rate of 20.1 percent in 2012. But the change was within the margin of error, rendering it insignificant.

Nationwide, the rate was 14.5 percent.

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HNF Stories
10:35 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Florida Matters Preview: A Look at Aging in Place

Mildred Barnett remodeled her home to accommodate her 81-year-old mother (seated). Barnett lives with her husband and two children.
Yoselis Ramos

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 4:51 pm

Mildred Barnett of Tampa says she once saw a picture with three faces: one of a baby, one of a woman and one of an older lady.

"And it says, ‘the sunrise is as beautiful as the sunset,’ and with proper planning, it most certainly can be," she said.

Barnett is a VA geriatric psychiatrist who recently remodeled her home to accommodate her 81-year-old mother. 

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HNF Stories
8:39 am
Tue September 16, 2014

FL ‘Gray Belt’ a Glimpse at Nation’s Future

Credit Citrus County, Florida

A billboard at the county line advertises home health care services. Local churches try to create a feeling of belonging for elderly members who may be disconnected from family up north. Lawyers and accountants make house calls like doctors. Elderly residents get ferried to stores by a fleet of county minivans.

Welcome to Citrus County, Florida, where more than a third of residents are senior citizens, one of the highest rates in the nation.

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HNF Stories
7:24 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Damages Reduced in Kickbacks Case

A federal judge has reduced the punitive damages that a Tampa jury imposed in June on national drug-testing firm Millennium Laboratories after finding that it engaged in unfair competition by breaking anti-kickback laws in Florida and two other states.

But Millennium Labs, based in San Diego, still owes more than $11 million to its rival Ameritox Ltd. after the reduction. In Friday's 29-page order, U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew called Millennium's conduct "fairly reprehensible."

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HNF Stories
3:32 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Despite Progress, Problems—New And Old—Pop Up In Florida's Medicaid Managed Care Program

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 3:20 pm

Florida recently finished rolling out a new way of providing care to more than 3.5 million low-income Floridians. Nearly all of them are now enrolled in managed care plans. The state agency that runs Medicaid recently released a series of comments from various players in the industry praising the rollout. But some groups say the new system is still plagued with problems.

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HNF Stories
10:09 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Real Health Costs Concealed From Public

Almost a year and a half ago, Mt. Sinai Medical Center CEO Steve Sonenreich pledged on WLRN to make public what insurance companies pay his hospital.

But he learned that non-disclosure agreements between the hospital and the region’s insurance companies, kept him from legally sharing that information after all.

It turns out these secrecy agreements are standard practice between South Florida insurers and hospitals, WLRN and the Miami Herald reveal in its comprehensive series the “Power of Price.”

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HNF Stories
8:55 am
Mon September 15, 2014

FL Fires 13 Prison Employees in Crackdown

Credit Florida Department of Corrections

 State prison officials did some major house cleaning this week, firing 13 people in the wake of widespread abuse allegations.

The Florida Department of Corrections on Friday announced the dismissal of three officers and two sergeants for punching and kicking a prisoner at Lancaster Correctional Institution.

Another officer was fired for a DUI arrest and another for driving with a suspended license.

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HNF Stories
7:44 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Health Care Pricing Is Complicated. Here's A Beginner's Guide.

If only health care financing was this straightforward.

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 6:58 am

Figuring out the real price of health care is complicated — even if you've already paid your bills. You can hear just how complicated it is here:

And if health care pricing wasn’t convoluted enough, it’s hard to talk about it without running into some conversation-stopping jargon. Words that mean one thing to the rest of the English-speaking world can mean something completely different in health care — like a “charge” that isn’t the same as the price.

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HNF Stories
4:43 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Power Of Price: A Special Hour On Health Care's Complexity, Secrecy And Cost In South Florida

Patients can know what health care costs them, but can they really know what it costs?

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 1:02 pm

  Almost a year and a half ago, Mt. Sinai Medical Center CEO Steve Sonenreich pledged on WLRN to make public what insurance companies pay his hospital.

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HNF Stories
10:00 am
Sat September 13, 2014

FL Health Centers Get $13.4M

Four dozen health centers around the state that provide a medical home for uninsured low-income Floridians and for those who are newly insured through the Affordable Care Act will get a share of $13.4 million in federal funds, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday afternoon.

Most of the grants fell into the range of $150,000 to $400,000, but a few of them were for more:

·         Community Health of South Florida in Miami, about $507,000.

·         Manatee County Rural Health Services in Palmetto, about $499,000.

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HNF Stories
1:00 am
Fri September 12, 2014

‘Trailblazing’ Health Journalist Honored

Health News Florida Editor Carol Gentry
Lottie Watts

The Florida Nurses Association is recognizing Health News Florida founder and Editor Carol Gentry for her significant and ongoing role in reporting on the state’s most important health issues.

The 2014 Communications/Media Award is being awarded to Gentry, who for four decades has been reporting on health policy and business, and has been holding industry and government officials accountable.

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HNF Stories
8:47 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Court Backs Dismissal of Smoker Lawsuits

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of 750 lawsuits filed against tobacco companies by a law firm representing Florida smokers and their families.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Wednesday with a lower court that the cases were improperly filed after the smoker had died. The cases are among thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 tossed out a massive $145 billion class action case against cigarette makers.

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HNF Stories
7:52 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Florida Health Choices Eyes New Vendor In Hopes Of Boosting Low Enrollment

Florida Health Choices launched in March 2014 and had only attracted 34 people by September.

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 6:28 pm

Florida’s health insurance marketplace debuted earlier this year but so far, less than forty people have signed up. Now the board that runs the program is looking to attract health insurance providers, and to do that, it’s turning to a new company to help it expand its services.

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HNF Stories
1:39 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Will Low Bidder Care for Kids?

Pearline Reno, LPN, with DJ
Carol Gentry/WUSF

In an ordinary house on an ordinary street near Orlando live some extraordinary children. To stay alive, they depend on machines and tubes and the caregivers sent out by an agency called Children First.

Registered nurse Maria Schiavi, co-owner of Children First, says some of the kids they care for were injured in an accident, such as a near-drowning. Others were born with life-threatening problems that modern medicine can’t fix.

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HNF Stories
1:38 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Home-Care Firm Rules Medicaid Market

Medicaid Director Justin Senior
Agency for Health Care Administration

It’s much too soon to say whether this summer’s flood of Florida Medicaid patients into private managed-care plans will accomplish the state’s goals of improving access to care and saving money.

But one result is already clear: The overhaul is concentrating power in the hands of specialty companies over which the state has no direct control.  Some say one such company has essentially taken over home care services and equipment.

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HNF Stories
9:01 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Audubon Climate Change Report Highlights State’s Need For Habitat Protection

Roseate Spoonbill.

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 10:32 am

 A new environmental report predicts nearly half of the bird species currently living in North America—including many in Florida could lose significant parts of their habitats by 2080 due to global warming.

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HNF Stories
8:56 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Mental Health Advocates Sue Prison System

A mental health advocacy group filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging the Florida Department of Corrections and its contractors ignored the widespread torture and abuse of mentally ill inmates for years at a Miami prison.

Meanwhile, as the Miami Herald reports, the department has unveiled a new inmate mortality database amid the furor over inmate deaths. 

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HNF Stories
5:36 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Florida Matters Preview: Grady Judd vs. John Morgan on Amendment 2

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 9:35 am

This November, voters in Florida will decide whether or not to legalize medical marijuana.  Recently, The Ledger of Lakeland hosted a forum on Amendment 2. The forum was moderated by Lenore Devore, the paper's editor, and featured Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Orlando attorney John Morgan.

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HNF Stories
8:38 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Adult Care Home Owner Sent to Prison

The owner of a north Florida adult care home is heading to prison.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Monday that Priscilla Smith Johnson from Williston was sentenced to more than eight years in prison.

Johnson was arrested last October on allegations of neglecting residents, failing to provide medical services for a resident's wounds, and financially exploiting residents at her small family care home. She was also alleged to have restrained a disabled adult with handcuffs and causing wounds on a disabled adult.

Her home had about 10 residents.

HNF Stories
7:34 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Donna Shalala Will Step Down As University of Miami President

Donna Shalala is stepping down as president of the University of Miami next year.

Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 6:14 pm

University of Miami president Donna Shalala says she’s stepping down next year from the job she’s held since 2001.



Shalala came to the university after leading the federal health agency for eight years and serving as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

 She helped build the national stature of the school's medical school and hospital and increased research budgets.

Frank Nero, former head of the Beacon Council, says even big businessmen were impressed by Shalala

.

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HNF Stories
1:28 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

FL 'Navigator' Grants Total $6.8M

The University of South Florida has been awarded by far the largest grant in the state to hire "navigators" who help uninsured people sign up for health insurance coverage through the federal Marketplace, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday.

Only two other Florida organizations won  navigator grants: the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, $871,275, and the Pinellas County Commission, $535,156. 

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HNF Stories
10:53 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Adult Obesity Rate Inches Up in FL

Credit AP

Florida has the 37th highest obesity rate among adults, up from its last ranking of 40th, according to a report from Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  

Florida's increase from 25.2 percent in 2012 to 26.4 percent in 2013 is not statistically significant, according to the annual report that's now named “The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America." For the past decade, it was called the "F as in FAT" report.

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HNF Stories
5:35 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

FL Groups Get $4.7M for Healthy Start

Six Florida groups have been awarded a total of $4.7 million in federal Healthy Start grants aimed at improved maternal health and lower infant mortality rates.

The Florida grants are part of $65 million that will go  to 87 organizations in 33 states, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced.

The largest Florida grant, $1.4 million, was awarded to REACHUP Inc. of Tampa.

Other state award-winners were:

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HNF Stories
11:45 am
Thu September 4, 2014

D.C. Court to Rehear ACA Subsidies Case

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

The federal appeals court in Washington threw out a ruling Thursday that called into question the subsidies that help millions of low- and middle-income people – including Floridians -- afford their premiums under the president's health care law.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted an Obama administration request to have its full complement of judges re-hear a challenge to regulations that allow health insurance tax credits under the Affordable Care Act for consumers in all 50 states.

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HNF Stories
9:37 am
Thu September 4, 2014

Health Care Spending Pace May Speed Up

The nation's respite from troublesome health care inflation is ending, the government said Wednesday in a report that renews a crucial budget challenge for lawmakers, taxpayers, businesses and patients.

Economic recovery, an aging society, and more people insured under the new health care law are driving the long-term trend, according to the report published online by the journal Health Affairs.

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