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PBS is bringing a nationally syndicated town hall on rising gun violence to central Florida tonight. Northland Church in Longwood will be the scene for the “Armed in America” series.

Pia Christensen/Association of Health Care Journalists

Dr. Vivek Murthy is not only one of the youngest people ever named the U.S. Surgeon General, the 38-year-old also is the first person of Indian descent to hold the post.

But there’s one more thing: he's a Floridian.

When 31-year-old Shannon Lawley died at a Brevard County hospital four years ago, her parents wanted to file a medical malpractice suit. But only spouses or children can sue under Florida law, and Shannon Lawley had neither.

Michael Lawley felt the law was so unfair that he protested to the legislature the year after she died, as Health News Florida reported at the time. 

Real prices for health care are complicated and oftentimes secret. Health News Florida, WUSF and WLRN have launched an online guide to bring clarity to health care costs. PriceCheck Florida is a database of prices of common health care procedures and supplies.

You can search the database, and you can contribute information about the prices you paid.  

This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 1 at 7:30 a.m.), we sit down with project founder Jeanne Pinder and Health News Florida reporter Sammy Mack to talk about how the database works and why it’s needed. We also feature a discussion on the impact of health care costs on employer-based insurance.

  The Indian River Lagoon stretches about 156 miles along the Florida's east coast. And it's where Laurilee Thompson has her earliest memories.

“I had a little tiny rowboat when I was 6-years-old . . . There were barnacles and oysters and sea squirts,” the Titusville resident recalled. “You know even just the pilings in  the sea walls were alive. . . the cone Jellies used to come in the spring . . . and you get this big green explosion. There were entire ecosystems just along the sea wall.”

Breast Implants, Tummy Tucks Funded By Identity Theft

Apr 26, 2016
Wikimedia Commons

When some central Florida women wanted plastic surgery they couldn't afford, police say they turned to a 28-year-old woman who used stolen IDs to cover the expenses.

http://www.hospitalsafetyscore.org/

The latest Hospital Safety Scores released by the not-for-profit watchdog Leapfrog Group show less than 25 percent of general, acute-care hospitals in Florida earned an A.

Last year, nearly half earned As.

FL Department Of Health Official Takes Tour In Wake Of Senate Concerns

Apr 26, 2016
Florida Department of Health

After the Florida Department of Health lost its leader last month in a bruising confirmation battle, his interim replacement is traveling the state to talk with local health officials.

Beginning in July, if you have health insurance and go to an in-network hospital but a doctor who is not in your insurance plan’s network helps you, you aren’t supposed to get a surprise bill.

While death rates from heart disease declined in Florida during the last five years, Volusia County saw a 9 percent increase in deaths.

Billy Ryan visits Roy's Trailer Park on Florida's Stock Island every two months. It's part of his regular rounds as an inspector for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.

"Hey, I'm just checking on the yards for the mosquito control," he tells one resident, Marie Baptiste, as he heads into her yard. "OK?" No problem, she tells him.

Florida is facing some serious doctor shortages in the next decade because of growth and an aging population. A statewide hospital network hopes more residency slots will help.

Coming up at noon on Friday, April 22, the Florida Roundup on WLRN in Miami will feature a conversation about PriceCheck with founder Jeanne Pinder and Health News Florida reporter Sammy Mack.

You can livestream the show from anywhere at WLRN.org or on 91.3 FM in South Florida.

Ask what something costs in medical care and you could easily come back with a half dozen different answers. Health care costs are complex and often secret.

That’s part of why WLRN, WUSF and Health News Florida are launching PriceCheck, a reporting project aimed at bringing clarity to the cost of health care in Florida.

The Radio and Television Digital News Association and Florida Associated Press Broadcasters have recognized Health News Florida with five journalism awards.

Trying to get a handle on what makes PriceCheck different from other looks at health care costs? Here are some frequently asked questions before you start searching our database.

Feds Say New Abortion Law Can’t Block Clinic Funding

Apr 20, 2016

A key federal health agency on Tuesday notified Florida and other states that they may not ban Medicaid funding for family-planning services at clinics that also offer elective abortions.

Insurer, Hospital Tangle About Cost Information

Apr 20, 2016

The Florida Supreme Court is ready to wade into a dispute between State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance and a major Jacksonville hospital about contracts and other documents that contain detailed information about how much the hospital charges for services.

You would think after playing defensive end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for nine years, and then 11 more as a Tampa firefighter, John Cannon might have back pain.

But the engineer-driver said he feels pretty good, thanks in part to a short exercise program TFR put together with researchers from USF Health - a program that, with the help of a $1.3 million federal grant, will soon be tested by firefighters in the Tampa Bay area's three largest departments.

The Zika virus has prompted Orange and Seminole counties to add mosquito control staff.

Study: Medicaid Expansion Encourages More Poor Adults To Get Health Care

Apr 19, 2016
Source: The Kaiser Family Foundation

In states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, low-income adults were more likely to see a doctor, stay overnight in a hospital and receive their first diagnoses of diabetes and high cholesterol, according to a study published Monday.

Free Clinics Expanding Mission To Help Insured Patients With High Expenses

Apr 19, 2016
Daylina Miller/Health News Florida

Denise Johnson works two jobs, but neither of them offers health insurance to part-timers like her. She signed up for a marketplace plan this year, but for routine medical care, Johnson still goes to the free clinic near her Charlottesville, Virginia, home.

The problem is her plan’s deductible of at least $1,000. She can’t recall the precise figure, but it doesn’t really matter. “It’s absolutely high,” said Johnson, 58. “Who can afford that?” She struggles to pay her $28 monthly premium.

Abe Aboraya / Health News Florida

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said places where Zika virus is being caught locally should not accept blood donations until there’s a test.

And just like that, the island commonwealth of Puerto Rico was in a pinch, needing to look elsewhere. Orlando-based OneBlood was one of three blood bank networks in the U.S. helping out.

After months of hesitation, U.S. health officials now say that the Zika virus is indeed the cause of severe brain damage in the infants of some women who were infected with the virus during pregnancy.

A CDC review published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine describes evidence of what U.S. health officials now call a causal relationship between the virus and a severe form of microcephaly and intracranial calcifications.

Florida hospitals continue to have some of the highest Caesarean delivery rates in the country, according to a new analysis out from Consumer Reports.

“People might find differences in nearby hospitals, so they really have to look at a map and at the rates and see what stories the numbers are telling,” said Doris Peter, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

While the FDA has released a preliminary finding of no significant impact from a proposed test of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys, many in the neighborhood where the test would take place are opposed to the plan.

Oxitec, the company that makes the genetically modified version of aedes aegypti, is holding two public meetings in Key West this week to answer questions from the public, especially those in Key Haven. That neighborhood, a peninsula about five miles from Key West, is the proposed testing site.

Health Care Providers Not Waiting For Telehealth Bill

Apr 11, 2016
Nemours Children's Hospital- YouTube

Gov. Rick Scott has a few more days left to sign a bill that would create a statewide telehealth advisory council, but health care providers aren't waiting.

Florida Board of Medicine

A Florida doctor held criminally negligent in the fiery deaths of a child and his grandmother in a hyperbaric chamber has lost his medical license, seven years after the tragedy made international headlines.

The Florida Board of Medicine revoked the medical license of Dr. George Daviglus and those of four other physicians on Friday at a disciplinary hearing in Altamonte Springs. 

Chronic diseases--like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and some cancers--are the leading cause of death across the country. They disproportionately affect many minorities and people living in poverty.

Photo: Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

A street pill that looks like it came straight from the pharmacist is causing deaths in Orlando. State law enforcement officials discovered the so-called super pill recently, and they are warning residents to keep from buying pain killers on the black market.

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