HNF Stories

HNF Stories
8:44 am
Thu February 26, 2015

$100M Settlement in FL Tobacco Lawsuits

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A $100 million settlement has been reached between three major tobacco companies and hundreds of people who sued them for smoking-related deaths and illnesses in Florida federal court.

The tentative agreement announced Wednesday involves R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Philip Morris USA Inc. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. The deal resolves about 400 cases pending before a federal judge in Jacksonville, but does not affect thousands of other lawsuits pending in Florida state courts.

Read more
HNF Stories
12:01 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Rep. Hudson on Medicaid Expansion: No!

Rep. Matt Hudson

Florida business groups, insurers, and hospitals are pushing state officials to accept billions of dollars in federal funds to cover the low-income uninsured.

But when the 2015 legislative session opens next Tuesday, this impressive coalition will run into Rep. Matt Hudson, a Naples Republican who chairs the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.

Read more
HNF Stories
12:01 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Billions at Stake as State, Feds Negotiate Medicaid

Wikimedia Commons

When the 2015 legislative session begins next week, many of the state’s decisions on health care for the poor are on hold as state and federal Medicaid officials negotiate over funding, behind closed doors. Billions of dollars are at stake.

When it comes to health-care funding, Florida’s in a funny position. The state has twice turned down billions of dollars from federal Medicaid that would have covered care for about a million poor Floridians.

This year may be no different.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:08 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Taking The Marijuana Debate To A Higher Level

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 10:24 am

Never mind a medical exception. A North Florida Democrat wants to go a step further and legalize marijuana outright. Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda expects more than local resistance.

It’s the kind of doomed legislation you would expect from the minority caucus. But Rehwinkel Vasilinda says she wants to stir debate -- and she’s using an unusual strategy to do it. Her bill removes marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug from the list of controlled substances.

“It’s pushing ideas forward and there’s nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Read more
HNF Stories
9:01 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Hospital Districts Could Face Taxing Votes

 A House Republican filed a proposal Tuesday that would require once-a-decade votes about whether local hospital districts should be able to continue taxing residents.

The proposal (HB 953), filed by Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach, would require reauthorization of hospital-district taxing authority to be placed on general-election ballots every 10 years. If voters turn down reauthorization, taxing authority would be terminated. In such cases, hospital districts could continue to operate without taxing authority or the districts would be dissolved.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:59 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Attorney: Settlement Reached In Parasailing Crash Lawsuit

Credit Associated Press

 Two Indiana teenagers who were seriously injured in a Florida Panhandle parasailing crash have settled their lawsuits, according to their lawyers.

Attorneys for Sidney Good and Alexis Fairchild – both 18 now – confirmed a settlement was reached Monday after more than a year of negotiations. Details of the settlement, including the amount, were confidential.

Wes Pittman, an attorney for Good, said during a news conference today outside a Panama City courthouse that the money is going to help the girls for the rest of their lives in a very meaningful way.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:47 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Institute Targets Retiree Health Benefits For Reform

The LeRoy Collins Institute's new study shows the state has more than $8 billion in unfunded health care benefits for retirees.

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 5:09 pm

The next big blow to already-fragile local pension plans could come from retiree health benefits. That’s a according to the latest report on pensions from the public-policy driven, LeRoy Collins Institute.

Read more
HNF Stories
10:00 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Critics Warn Cuts Will Harm Services to Toddlers

  Blaming a budget shortfall, the Florida Department of Health has laid off most of the administrators at the Early Steps program, which serves babies and toddlers with developmental disabilities and delays.

The department said the cuts won't affect services to families. But critics of the move say it will leave the program --- which gets the majority of its funding from the federal government --- unable to meet requirements that keep the money flowing.

The workers received letters of termination Thursday, advising that their last day would be March 2.

Read more
HNF Stories
4:37 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Florida Matters: Previewing 2015 Legislative Issues (Medical Marijuana, Testing and More)

Calvina Fay is the executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, which is based in St. Petersburg. She says she doesn't think the bill from state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, will pass.

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 9:06 am

    

This week on Florida Matters, we are taking a look at some of the issues lawmakers are expected to take up during the upcoming 60-day session.

Read more
HNF Stories
4:07 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

In a Twist, Fight For Medical Pot Goes to Florida Statehouse

In this Oct. 8, 2014 photo, Ben Pollara, who leads United for Care, the group that lobbied for a comprehensive medical marijuana law in last year's Florida ballot, is seen at a rally in Boca Raton, Fla.
Credit AP

Republicans lawmakers in Florida who once opposed medical pot are now embracing it, motivated by the strong show of support from voters and worried that another constitutional amendment during next year's presidential race could drive opponents to the polls.

Read more
HNF Stories
9:25 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Orlando Vying for High-Tech Medical Company's HQ

SMRxT Inc. included this diagram of its smart pill bottle product in its patent application.
Credit U.S. Patent Office

Orlando on Monday approved its part of two tax packages to bring 100 jobs to Orlando.

And one seeks to solve an age-old problem: Patients not taking their pills.

  – pronounced Smart X Inc. – could move its headquarters from New York to Orlando. The company is testing a smart pill bottle to tell doctors in real-time if patients have stopped taking a prescription.

SMRxT is pilot testing with Florida Hospital. In total, it’s seeking a $330,000 incentive package from the state to create 55 high-paying jobs.

Read more
HNF Stories
9:21 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Survey: Uninsured Rate Hit New Low in 2014

Credit HealthCare.gov

The share of Americans without health insurance dropped to its lowest level in seven years in 2014 as President Barack Obama's overhaul took full effect, according to an extensive survey released Tuesday.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that the trend appears likely to continue this year, since 55 percent of those who remained uninsured told the pollster they plan to get coverage rather than face escalating tax penalties.

In Florida, the rate dropped 3.4 points.

Read more
HNF Stories
9:18 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Man Claims Pot Needed for Eating Disorder

A South Florida man is using a medical necessity defense in a trial on charges of illegally growing dozens of marijuana plants on his property.

Opening statements are expected Tuesday in the case of 50-year-old Jesse Teplicki of Hollywood. Teplicki says the 46 plants seized by authorities two years ago were not for distribution but for his own use, to fight symptoms related to the eating disorder anorexia.

Read more
HNF Stories
9:17 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Protests Continue Over Boy's Circumcision

In January, protesters in Boynton Beach spoke out in the case involving the 4-year-old boy.
Credit Matt Sedensky/AP

Last-ditch protests and legal maneuvers are underway as an estranged Florida couple's protracted fight over whether to circumcise their son appears close to an end.

Dennis Nebus of Boca Raton, the father of the 4-year-old boy, said in a court filing he was attempting to schedule the surgery for Tuesday. That prompted a round of filings by the mother, Heather Hironimus of Boynton Beach, and promises of demonstrations by anti-circumcision activists who have made the case a rallying cry against a practice they consider barbaric.

Read more
HNF Stories
9:16 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Medical Tourism Could Get Backing

Credit Visit Florida

A House Republican on Monday filed a proposal that would lead to marketing Florida as a "medical tourism" destination --- and put state money behind it.

The proposal (HB 945), filed by Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach, would require Enterprise Florida to market the state as a "destination for quality health care services."

That would include efforts such as promoting the qualifications and expertise of health-care providers and promoting medical-related conferences or business opportunities in Florida.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:50 am
Tue February 24, 2015

King v. Burwell May Be GOP Wake-Up Call

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

Republican efforts to replace the federal health law have been given new urgency by the Supreme Court.

As soon as this spring, the court could invalidate health insurance subsidies available to nearly a million Floridians and many other Americans if it rules for the challengers in a case called King v. Burwell.

Those pushing the case argue that language in the law limits help to pay for insurance to residents of states that have established their own health insurance exchanges. 

Read more
HNF Stories
8:30 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Florida Legislators Introduce Campus Carry Bills Despite Opposition

Landis Green from the steps of Strozier Library.

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 2:01 pm

Despite broad opposition on Florida’s campuses, state lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to allow guns at universities.  Three months ago today, there was a shooting at Florida State University, and this week the controversial measure began its path through the Senate.

Read more
HNF Stories
9:10 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Medical Marijuana Law Path Hazy

Florida could join 23 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing medical marijuana. Senate President Andy Gardiner says that wouldn’t happen, though, until a committee of growers, doctors, and cannabis experts hashes out criteria for who and how to grow the marijuana.

“It’s been tied up in rulemaking in the department, so there might be a challenge of how much you do this year when you haven’t even implemented what we did last May,” Gardiner said in a phone interview.

Republican Senator Jeff Brandes has proposed a bill to expand last year’s Charlotte’s Web law.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:25 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Prison Health Contracts to be Rebid

Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones
Credit The Florida Channel

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones announced Friday she intends to rebid contracts worth about $1.4 billion with private companies to provide health-care services to the state's 100,000 inmates.

Jones's announcement came amid increased scrutiny of Florida's prison system, the third-largest in the country, after reports of guards abusing inmates, a rising number of unexplained inmate deaths and lawsuits from investigators who claim they were retaliated against after exposing wrongdoing.

Read more
HNF Stories
1:05 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

Putnam Asks FDLE for Further Dozier Investigation

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 10:44 am

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is asking the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to evaluate new findings in the history of students at the former Arthur G. Dozier school for boys.

In a letter dated Wednesday, Putnam — who is one of three members of the Florida Cabinet — cited a recent report by researchers at the University of South Florida.

Read more
HNF Stories
12:05 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

Bills Aimed At Helping Florida's Disabled Foster Kids Gaining Traction

Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice) speaking at the Florida Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee Thursday about her bill.

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 9:24 am

A bill that would help identify guardians and guardian advocates for children with developmental disabilities aging out of foster care passed its first committees this week.

Gerry Glynn is the Chief Legal Officer for Community Based Care of North Florida. But, before that, he worked as a law professor and child advocate in 2009. In that role, Glynn says he chaired a committee reviewing the tragic death of a young man by the name of Regis Little.

Read more
HNF Stories
12:04 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

Lawmakers Mull Over Mental Health-Criminal Justice Link, Includes More Officer Training

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 5:45 pm

A group of Florida lawmakers is looking into the mental health issues of inmates in the state’s criminal justice system, and some legislation could be in store based on ideas from different law agencies and the courts.

For Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, he says it’s important all law enforcement agencies get some type of training to account for people with mental health issues called Crisis Intervention Team, or CIT training.

“You see, we’ve got 27 Sheriffs offices that aren’t doing CIT at all; I think we need 100 percent,” said Gualtieri.

Read more
HNF Stories
9:38 pm
Sat February 21, 2015

Bad Tax Info Sent on HealthCare.gov Plans

Credit Internal Revenue Service

In a new setback for the health care law and the people it's supposed to help, the government said Friday it made a tax-reporting error that's fouling up the filings of nearly a million Americans, including Floridians.

After a successful sign-up season, the latest goof could signal new problems with the complex links between President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and the nation's income tax system.

Read more
HNF Stories
9:17 pm
Sat February 21, 2015

State Approves 22 New Nursing Homes

Companies submitted 138 different applications to build nearly 18,000 nursing home beds across Florida, as shown in the map above.
Megan Milanese Health News Florida

The Agency for Health Care Administration on Friday announced it will let 22 new nursing homes open across the state, and will allow another 11 existing facilities to expand.

The highly competitive bid process ends Florida’s 14-year ban on new construction.

Orlando Senior Health Network, owner of Orlando Lutheran Towers, was one of the winners. CEO Alicia Labrecque said the companies will be able to build space for 2,600 nursing home beds.

Read more
HNF Stories
11:55 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Amid Tax Season, Feds Give Extra Plan Enrollment Time

The deadline to buy health insurance coverage for 2015 has come and gone. But some people without insurance are just finding out now that they have to pay a tax penalty, and they're getting another chance to sign up.

Federal health officials announced Friday morning that they’re offering a new, special open enrollment period for consumers who are preparing their 2014 taxes now and figuring out that they owe a tax penalty under the Affordable Care Act.

This extra time will be for consumers to buy coverage for 2015, and avoid paying a penalty when they file their 2015 taxes.

Read more
HNF Stories
7:16 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Health First Whistleblower Details Emerge

Credit Health First

There’s more legal trouble for a Brevard County hospital this week.

Health First is already facing an antitrust case, and now a similar whistleblower lawsuit was unsealed this week as well. Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya spoke with WMFE Host Crystal Chavez about the case.

Chavez: So what’s being alleged here?

Read more
HNF Stories
10:15 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Aging Nation Tested By Health, Finances

Credit Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Social Security is turning 80 this year. 

And Medicare is hitting the big 5-0. 

These aging government programs - and the challenges brought on by the enormous Baby Boomer generation - underscored Thursday's discussions at the first of five White House Conference on Aging regional gatherings. 

Read more
HNF Stories
12:01 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Telemedicine For Haiti: The University Of Miami Makes Trauma More Survivable

Dr. Shailesh Garg (foreground) in Miami advises Dr. Kathleen Charles (on video screens) in Haiti.

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 7:04 am

Haiti is no stranger to trauma – as we were reminded on Tuesday, when a power-line accident and the ensuing panic killed 16 people during Carnival celebrations in Port-au-Prince.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:57 am
Thu February 19, 2015

White House Hosts Tampa Forum on Seniors' Priorities

  The White House is holding the first in a series of forums to hear about the most important issues facing older Americans. 

The event Thursday in Tampa comes amid a historic demographic shift in the U.S. as the massive baby boom generation moves closer to old age.

Read more
HNF Stories
8:46 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Senators Look For More Ways To Boost Adoptions

A bill that would provide incentives to state employees who adopt children in Florida's foster-care system continued moving forward Wednesday with several changes.

The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously approved the measure (SB 320) by Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, with amendments aimed at boosting adoptions still further.

The bill would provide a one-time cash payment of $5,000 per child to state employees who adopt children from the foster-care system and $10,000 per child for those who adopt children who also have special needs.

Read more

Pages