HNF Stories

HNF Stories
2:31 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Ahead of Amendment 2, A Look at Marijuana's Role in Medicine

David Trawin via Flickr

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 10:02 am

In the coming days, Floridians vote on Amendment 2 which calls to legalize medical marijuana. But its role in medicine is a bit contradictory. The US classifies it as a schedule one drug, deeming it a substance with high abuse potential and no accepted medical use – the same class as heroin and LSD. Yet almost half the states in the country have legalized it for patients.

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HNF Stories
9:43 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Health Overhaul Doubts Ease For Insurers

What a difference a year makes.

The nation’s biggest health insurers entered last fall cautious about a major coverage expansion initiated by the health care overhaul, the federal law that aims to cover millions of uninsured people.

Investors and company executives were worried because they didn’t know how expensive new customers from the overhaul would be for insurers. They also were concerned about added costs from the law and funding cuts to government-sponsored Medicare Advantage plans, a key growth area.

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HNF Stories
9:27 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Floridians Sue Over Red Light Cameras

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Two Florida drivers have filed a class action lawsuit against a private company that ran red light cameras for more than 70 Florida municipalities.

Christopher Parker and Marwa Moussa said in a lawsuit filed Monday that their rights to due process were violated by the Arizona company, American Traffic Solutions.

They say the company was given improper authority for decisions that should have been made by law enforcement officers.

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HNF Stories
9:00 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Some Southern States Expanding Medicaid

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Center has seen its number of uninsured patients drop since the state expanded Medicaid.
Credit The University of Arkansas

The University of Kentucky’s Chandler Hospital has seen its inpatient numbers rise by 5 percent and its outpatient numbers rise by 10 percent since July. But its number of uninsured patients has dropped, from about 9 percent to 2.5 percent.

Prior to this year, says Chandler’s Dr. Michael Karpf, “we were getting paid 10 cents on the dollar” serving low-income patients. “Now we are getting 40 cents on the dollar, so the cost of care for these people isn’t totally covered, but there is a lot more reimbursement. It means we are having very strong bottom lines in the hospital.”

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HNF Stories
12:02 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Impairment Triggers Wrong-Way Crashes

A woman was killed after driving her car the wrong way on southbound I-75 Sept. 22 and striking a tractor trailer in Pasco County.
Florida Highway Patrol

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading causes of injury and death in the United States. And while wrong-way crashes account for a small percentage of the accidents, more than a dozen people have died in an outbreak of wrong-way driving on Tampa-area roads.

"Unfortunately 2014 has been a very tragic year, especially dealing with the wrong way crashes, and we can't really say why this year we've seen such the number we have,” said Sgt. Steve Gaskins with Florida Highway Patrol.

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HNF Stories
7:58 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Florida Monitoring Six for Ebola

U.S. Navy Cmd. James Lawler, Naval Medical Research Bio Defense chief of clinical research, briefs a 30-person joint service medical support team on Ebola response.
Senior Airman Cory D. Payne U.S. Air Force

Six people who recently traveled from Ebola-affected regions are under twice-daily monitoring by the Florida Health Department. The state continues preparing in case someone tests positive.

No cases of Ebola have been confirmed in Florida, and all six of the people being monitored are considered low-risk. Gov. Rick Scott says just under 100 hospitals have completed special Ebola training, and he hopes more will do so.

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HNF Stories
12:01 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Hospitals Take Leap on Prevention

Nearly half of Florida hospitals have earned an "A" on error prevention in a new report card from a business-backed group concerned about patient safety.

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HNF Stories
9:16 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Scott Defends Order on Ebola Monitoring

Gov. Rick Scott
Credit Associated Press

Gov. Rick Scott defended his decision to monitor anyone coming from Ebola-affected countries, saying Monday it's "the right thing to do" to protect Floridians. 

Appearing beside New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a campaign event in Wellington, Scott said his executive order would ensure that the state wards off an outbreak and goes beyond actions by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I want to make sure that ... we don't do what CDC did — they got behind," he said. "We're not going to get behind. We're going to be prepared."

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HNF Stories
12:53 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Medicare Plan Fights State Order

Ultimate Health Plans, a scrappy little company north of Tampa, is offering Medicare HMO deals that  sound too good to be true: no premium, no deductible, free gym membership and even cash back.

What's not to like? Ask the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, which suspects the company lacks sufficient funds to pay claims for its 3,000 members. OIR issued a suspension order Oct. 2, but it was  placed on hold when Ultimate invoked its right to a hearing. It can take months, sometimes years, for the hearing process to unfold.

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HNF Stories
12:32 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Most FL Plans Shine in Star Ratings

Credit U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Just a handful of Florida Medicare Advantage plans offered for 2015 received below average scores in a federal quality rating system, a breakdown of data by Avalere Health shows.

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HNF Stories
9:10 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Hazing Trial Starts for 4 FAMU Band Members

Robert Champion
Credit Don Juan Moore / Associated Press

Florida A & M University's Marching 100 had played at a Super Bowl and before U.S. presidents. But one of the nation's most-celebrated marching bands had a dark secret: members were occasionally beaten with mallets, fists and drumsticks in a hazing initiation known as "crossing" Bus C.

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HNF Stories
8:44 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Ex-Health Worker Gets Prison for ID Theft

A former assistant at a South Florida medical practice has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for stealing patient identities from a hospital database.

A federal judge imposed the sentence Friday on 33-year-old La Toya Yvette Tillman of Hollywood, who pleaded guilty in August to aggravated identity theft.

According to court documents, Tillman was able to steal the identities by accessing the Memorial Healthcare System database through a computer at her medical office. She sold 2,000 of the stolen identities to another person for $1 each.

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HNF Stories
8:32 am
Mon October 27, 2014

HealthCare.Gov EZ Form Not for Immigrants

Credit CuidadoDeSalud.gov

HealthCare.gov's simpler online application is being touted as a big win for consumers. But it can't be used by immigrants in the United States legally and naturalized U.S. citizens, who represent millions of potential new health insurance customers.

That's prompting worries that many Hispanics and Asians will end up in long enrollment queues when the second sign-up season for coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law gets underway next month.

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HNF Stories
5:11 pm
Sun October 26, 2014

Florida Orders 21-Day Monitoring for Ebola

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is ordering twice daily monitoring for anyone returning from places the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates as affected by Ebola.

Scott signed the order Saturday, giving the Florida Department of Health authority to monitor individuals for 21 days. Scott said in a press release that his administration had asked the CDC to identify risk levels of returning individuals from specific parts of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, requesting information specifically about the risk level for four people who had already returned.

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HNF Stories
9:02 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Watching Health News, for You

For years, Health News Florida has been sharing the state’s top health news with you, via our daily eAlert. We wake up early every day, keeping tabs on the latest developments on stories from Miami to Marianna, and Tallahassee to Tampa.

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HNF Stories
10:37 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Suspended Medicare HMOs Still Listed

Many Florida shoppers at Medicare.gov will find Day Break and Sunrise among their lowest-priced HMO options. But if they call to enroll in either one, they’re out of luck.

Florida Healthcare Plus, a small Coral Gables company that sponsors the two Medicare Advantage plans, is under state and federal suspension, unable to sign up new members during the current open-enrollment season for Medicare, Oct. 15-Dec. 7. Being frozen at this time of year can be a death sentence for such plans.

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HNF Stories
9:07 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Health Director Tackles Ebola Facts, Fiction

Credit Megan Milanese

Hillsborough County's Health Department director is going of the offensive to combat fears about Ebola.

Douglas Holt said that concerns have grown since two health care workers in Texas tested positive for the disease after treating a man who died from it. 

But the real threats to U.S. safety in regard to Ebola are fear and panic, he said. The key to controlling the outbreak is early identification, isolation, and identification.

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HNF Stories
9:54 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Public Doubts Hospitals Can Handle Ebola

Most Americans have some confidence that the U.S. health care system will prevent Ebola from spreading in this country, but they're not so sure their local hospital can safely handle a patient, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

Amid worry here, most Americans say the U.S. also should be doing more to stop Ebola in West Africa. Health authorities have been clear: Until that epidemic ends, travelers could unknowingly carry the virus anywhere.

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HNF Stories
9:29 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Slain Kids Told DCF They Feared Mom

In the months before a Volusia County man shot his three children, his wife's drinking seemed to be tearing the family apart.

According to documents released Tuesday by state child welfare officials, Cynthia Mohney was stumbling drunk at times, repeatedly slapped the children and they were increasingly afraid of her.

It was her disturbing behavior that brought child protective investigators to the home in June and recommended she seek substance abuse treatment. Two of the children even told investigators they felt safer with their father.

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HNF Stories
9:27 am
Thu October 23, 2014

FL Hospitals Battling Infections

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  While Ebola stokes public anxiety, more than one in six hospitals — including some top medical centers — are having trouble stamping out less exotic but sometimes deadly infections, federal records show.

Nationally, about one in every 25 hospitalized patients gets an infection, and 75,000 people die each year from them—more than from car crashes and gun shots combined. A Kaiser Health News analysis found 695 hospitals with higher than expected rates for at least one of the six types of infections tracked by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Depression An Evolutionary Process

USF psychology professor, Jonathan Rottenberg, will participate in the 22nd Annual Festival of Reading with his book about depression.
Basic Books Publishing Company

Psychology Professor Jonathan Rottenberg wants to change the way people think about depression, a condition the World Health Organization estimates affects 350 million people around the world.  The University of South Florida professor uses mood science research to challenge the current model of depression -- that it is a chemical imbalance. This approach doesn't explain why antidepressants don't work any more effectively than when they were first introduced, he said.   Instead, his theory, featured in 

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HNF Stories
9:43 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Poynter to Host African Journalists After USF Cancels

Credit The Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg will host a group of African journalists after their original hosts, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg's Department of Journalism and Media Studies, canceled over concerns of the spread of the Ebola virus. 

The visit is part of the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, which brings 100 international journalists to the United States each year. 

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HNF Stories
9:00 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Rubio Proposes Ebola Visa Ban

Credit AP

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, will propose legislation to temporarily ban visas into America for people coming from African nations known to have Ebola.

Under the Florida senator’s plan, citizens of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia could not obtain a visa to come to the United States until those countries get the virus under control.

Rubio pointed to recent success in Nigeria, which has been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization.

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7:20 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Health Issues Big in Only Attorney General Debate

In the one and only debate among the candidates for Florida Attorney General, health issues came up again and again. Highlights featured in WUSF’s weekly public affairs show Florida Matters include discussions of medical marijuana, pill mills and the so-called “stand-your-ground” law.  

HNF Stories
3:11 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Florida Matters Preview: Attorney General Debate

Left to Right: Al Ruechel (Bay News 9), Ybeth Bruzual (News 13) and Adam Smith (Tampa Bay Times) moderate the only debate among the three candidates for Florida Attorney General: Pam Bondi (incumbent, Republican), George Sheldon (Democrat) and Bill Wohlsifer (Libertarian).

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 9:20 am

Florida's candidates for Attorney General met for their first and only debate earlier this month in the studios of Bay News 9.

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9:02 am
Mon October 20, 2014

CDC to Talk Ebola with Florida Hospitals

 Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hold a conference call today on Ebola preparedness and training with Florida hospitals.

Gov. Rick Scott said Saturday that the call scheduled Monday afternoon will provide guidance for proper use of personal protective equipment, safe handling of medical waste and effective clinical strategies within hospitals.

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7:52 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Rick Scott Says Following CDC Guidance Might Be Wrong

HE HAS DEMANDS: Gov. Scott wants more federal help to keep Ebola out of Florida and also a ban on travel from West Africa.

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 6:36 am

 Gov. Rick Scott opened fire on the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, accusing the agency of starving Florida of the information, equipment and even the testing kits the state needs to be safe from the deadly Ebola virus.

"The CDC has not fulfilled any of Florida's requests," Scott said angrily. "We are now asking publicly to support us in these important efforts for our state."

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4:39 pm
Sun October 19, 2014

Questions Help Hospitals Guard from Ebola

All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg

Step inside All Children's Hospital and you're greeted with three things: hand sanitizer, tissues and masks decorated with little cartoon Band-Aids with legs, feet and smiles. "Dirt Squirt Alert!" a sign says. "Stop the spread of germs that make you and others sick!"

A sign at the check-in counter calls on people to immediately tell the triage nurse if 

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4:00 pm
Sun October 19, 2014

The Fight Over Distribution Of Low-THC Marijuana Moves To Administrative Law Court

Charlotte's Web is a non-euphoric marijuana oil. Florida's law allows doctors to order similar products to treat patients who suffer from specific symptoms.

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 5:52 pm

Opponents of the Department of Health’s proposed rules for distributing low-THC marijuana began a legal challenge this week.  Implementing the new “Compassionate Use of Marijuana” law has been a rocky, contentious ride that doesn’t appear to be easing.

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9:18 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Nurses Union Demands Better Ebola Training

Nurses gather in Tampa's Ybor City to demand proper training on how to deal with Ebola.
Credit Bay News 9

Nurses from National Nurses United gathered in Tampa's Ybor City on Wednesday to stage a "die-in."

It was a dramatic way to get the public's attention with the hope that hospitals would get the message that the time to prepare to fight Ebola is now.

Pasco County ICU nurse Louise Easty said she thinks some hospitals are making efforts to get up to speed, to where they need to be. 

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