HNF Stories

UPDATED 11/23 1:55 P.M.

A woman died Monday morning at Florida Hospital in Tampa after her stepfather shot her and then killed himself.


Florida legislators have been grappling with the problem of balance billing—also known as “surprise billing”—and now the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has proposed a broader rule aimed at fixing the issue.

Many people have seen the ads on TV pushing this pill or that device. It's usually followed by "Ask your doctor if this medication is right for you."

But the American Medical Association says those ads contribute to rising drug costs and patient demands for inappropriate treatments and they're calling for a ban on what they call "direct-to-consumer" ads for prescription drugs and implantable devices.

Although the Department of Health has awarded licenses to grow cannabis, patients could still be waiting more than nine months for treatment.  But one of the nurseries is hoping to push that timeline forward.

More children are coming into Florida's foster-care system after a sweeping child-welfare reform law went into effect 19 months ago, but officials say the state is trying to focus on what's best for kids in difficult situations.

"You write laws to respond to the issues of the day, and those change at least annually," said state Sen. Nancy Detert, a Venice Republican and sponsor of a number of foster-care reforms. "So our focus in today's world is the best interests of the child in every way — safety, quality of life, the best location — and that's all we can do."

Every year before influenza itself arrives to circulate, misinformation and misconceptions about the flu vaccine begin circulating. Some of these contain a grain of truth but end up distorted, like a whispered secret in the Telephone game.

But if you're looking for an excuse not to get the flu vaccine, last year's numbers of its effectiveness would seem a convincing argument on their own. By all measures, last season's flu vaccine flopped, clocking in at about 23 percent effectiveness in preventing lab-confirmed influenza infections.

Most Americans See Personal Tie To Rising Prescription Painkiller Abuse

Nov 24, 2015
Associated Press

The growing abuse of prescription painkillers now touches home for a majority of Americans, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The Florida Department of Health announced Monday which five nurseries will participate in the state’s first medical marijuana program.

This is a step toward getting the program up and running, since it was signed into law about a year and a half ago.  

Patients will still have to wait months to receive the final product.

Florida Governor Rick Scott is asking the Legislature to pass a $79.3 billion state budget next year.

At a news conference in Jacksonville Monday morning, Scott went over some of the highlights of his Florida First Budget.

One of those highlights is a substantial revision to how the state doles out money for indigent health care.

Two Republican lawmakers are pitching a moderate expansion of the medical marijuana system they pushed through the Legislature almost two years ago.  The measure removes limits on potency, but only for terminally ill patients.

The University of Florida is involved in a federal settlement to repay nearly $20 million to the United States government.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement Friday afternoon in allegations that the university "improperly charged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for salary and administrative costs on hundreds of federal grants." According to the release, the investigation into improper use of funds started in 2010 for a period covering 2005 to 2010.

With time running out on open enrollment season, many seniors are facing sharply higher premiums for Medicare's popular prescription drug program. The reason: rising drug costs have overtaken a long stretch of stable premiums.

UnitedHealthcare Warns Of Marketplace Exit

Nov 20, 2015

UnitedHealthGroup laid out a litany of reasons Thursday why it might stop selling individual health insurance through federal and state markets in 2017 — a move some see as an effort to compel the Obama administration to ease regulations and make good on promised payments.

House Eyes Health Care Deregulation Ideas

Nov 20, 2015
Jupiter Images

Touting the possibility of more choices for patients, a House committee Thursday began a renewed effort to revamp regulations in the health-care industry.

Wikimedia Commons

Floridians in need of free medical services can head to Bradenton this weekend for a chance to be seen by a doctor, dentist or ophthalmologist.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell stopped at Miami Dade College on Wednesday to drum up excitement around open enrollment for health insurance plans—though during her stop she was not keen on addressing some of the problems that have come out of Obamacare.

She began her tour of MDC in a computer lab on the second floor of the downtown campus where there’s a bank of computers dedicated just to helping students enroll in Obamacare.

Florida Senate

The Florida Legislature is moving ahead with a measure that will increase the number of children eligible for vouchers that pay for special education programs.

Needle Exchange Program Gets Senate Backing

Nov 19, 2015

A Senate panel Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that would create a pilot needle-exchange program in Miami-Dade County to try to stem the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases.

Cancer Meds Often Bring Big Out-Of-Pocket Costs For Patients, Report Finds

Nov 19, 2015
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Cancer patients shopping on federal and state insurance marketplaces often find it difficult to determine whether their drugs are covered and how much they will pay for them, the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society says in a report that also calls on regulators to restrict how much insurers can charge patients for medications.

House Panel Looks At Foster Care Options

Nov 19, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

With the rate of children coming into Florida's foster-care system slowly increasing, state lawmakers are studying how to improve the options of where the children go to live.

Flickr / WMFE

For some homeless families in Orange County, the transition from the streets into houses will be quicker than before. Orange County Commissioners approved a $1.5 million contract this afternoon for a rapid rehousing service.

According to a recent report, rapid rehousing, or housing-first initiatives, are a more effective way to curb central Florida’s chronic homelessness problem among families.

The report says 18% of families that leave shelters successfully transition into rental housing; and 51% of families in transitional housing find rental homes.

Senate Panel Approves KidCare Expansion For Immigrants

Nov 19, 2015

Florida senators continued moving forward Wednesday with a bill that would help the children of legal immigrants get low-cost health insurance coverage through the state's KidCare program.

As criticism of soaring prescription drug prices in the U.S. grows, global spending on medicines is expected to rise 3 percent to 6 percent annually for the next five years, according to a new forecast from IMS Health.

Associated Press

President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration defended his record Tuesday as senators pressed him about rising drug prices, slow approval times for new drugs and his ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Florida hospitals paid for $1.5 billion in health costs for uninsured and underinsured patients last year.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is thanking Governor Rick Scott for pledging millions of dollars to help process thousands of untested rape kits.

The third year of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is now under way, and this week on Florida Matters (Sunday, Nov. 22 at 6:30 p.m.),  WUSF's Carson Cooper takes a look at some of the changes coming for health insurance in 2016 with Florida Covering Kids & Families Project Director Jodi Ray, Tampa health insurance agent Eric Brown and WUSF News Director and Health News Florida Editor Mary Shedden.


A Florida International University dean will lead a study on the effects of lead exposure on children's mental health thanks to a nearly $3 million grant.

Break-In Rescue Bill Gets Senate Approval

Nov 18, 2015

A proposal (SB 308) that would allow people to break into locked vehicles to help senior citizens, disabled adults, children or pets was approved without opposition Tuesday by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Pot Proposals For Terminally Ill Push Forward

Nov 18, 2015

Measures that would legalize full-strength medical marijuana for terminally ill patients received preliminary approval from House and Senate committees Tuesday, but not before one version underwent a major change that could have a dramatic impact on the state's current cannabis law.