HNF Stories

HNF Stories
7:23 am
Fri April 24, 2015

House Republicans Make Budget Offer

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli
Credit Florida Legislature

 Top Republicans in the Florida House made an offer Thursday to try to bridge a budget gap with Senate Republicans, but it could still result in the state's hospitals getting significantly less than they are receiving now.

House leaders offered to trim back spending on tax cuts and education - in order to boost spending in the state's safety net health care program. The offer, however, would be unconnected to a push by the Senate to expand Medicaid or revamp an existing program that takes federal money for hospitals.

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HNF Stories
2:50 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Selling Hard Boiled Eggs For Medicine: Tradeoffs People In The Gap Make For Health Care

Cynthia Louis in one of Florida International University's Neighborhood HELP Program parked in parking lot of the Pentecostal Tabernacle Church in Miami Gardens.
Credit Wilson Sayre / WLRN

 This is the third part in our series, Falling Into The Gap, in collaboration with the Miami Herald. Read more about the coverage gap and find affordable care on WLRN.org/healthgap.

Every Tuesday, a giant blue bus parks in front of the Pentecostal Tabernacle Church in Miami Gardens. Inside looks like a doctor’s office with a reclining exam chair and anatomical charts. You only know that it’s not a traditional office when it shakes as people get on and off.

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HNF Stories
9:24 am
Thu April 23, 2015

FL To Add 500 New Nursing Home Beds

 Nearly thirty companies will be competing to build new nursing homes in Florida. And with 1,700 applications for only about 500 new beds, competition will be fierce.

Florida just ended a 15-year moratorium on new nursing home construction.

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek said this could be the last big round of new nursing homes because of a cap.

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HNF Stories
9:10 am
Thu April 23, 2015

Medicaid: For The Loafer-Wearing Special Interests Or For The Neediest Floridians?

Cynthia Louis at a free mobile health clinic, one of the few places she can go to get health care as a person in the "coverage gap."

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 1:31 pm

This is the fourth and final part of our series, Falling Into The Gap, in collaboration with the Miami Herald. Read more about the coverage gap and find affordable care on WLRN.org/healthgap.

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HNF Stories
9:05 am
Thu April 23, 2015

Florida Lawmakers Pass Secret Recordings Bill, Juvenile Justice Bills

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto (left) joined by Sen. Wilton Simpson during the initial presentation of the bill last week.

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 12:58 pm

Bills aimed at helping Florida’s youth have passed the state Senate Wednesday.

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HNF Stories
11:33 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Program Building 3-D Bionics for Kids Grows

Wyatt Falardeau got a Blue Man Group bionic arm from Limbitless Solutions, a UCF nonprofit.
Credit WMFE / WMFE

An Orlando nonprofit that 3-D prints free bionic arms for children is expanding. And to kick off the expansion, they gave a 3-D printed arm to autistic 12-year-old.

Wyatt Falardeau had his arm amputated shortly after birth. He’s a huge fan of Blue Man Group, and earlier this month, they gave him a new robotic arm.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Wyatt said.

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HNF Stories
3:29 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Drug Database Credited With Lowering ODs

Credit Charlotte Observer

A database that tracks oxycodone and other controlled substances in Florida is being credited with a 25 percent drop in overdose deaths.

In 2011, the state created the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program so doctors and pharmacists could see if patients were doctor shopping, or getting care from multiple doctors without their awareness,  for prescription drugs.

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HNF Stories
2:01 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Music, Balloons and STD Awareness

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 3:01 pm

April is Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month. Friday, April 17 was STD Awareness Day in Hillsborough County. 

To mark the occasion, the Hillsborough County Florida Department of Health's clinic had a free STD testing day. 

The lobby was filled with music, balloons, conversation and health trivia games. 

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HNF Stories
1:26 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

House Approves 24-Hour Waiting Period For Abortions

State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, is the sponsor of the bill.

With the Senate also poised to take up the issue, the Florida House on Wednesday approved a bill that would require 24-hour waiting periods before women can have abortions.

The measure (HB 633), sponsored by freshman Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, passed on a vote of 77-41, largely along party lines.

The debate followed party lines, too, with Republicans arguing for the sanctity of life and Democrats arguing for the right to choose.

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HNF Stories
9:24 am
Wed April 22, 2015

With Added Exemptions, Abortion Waiting Period Bills Slated For Votes This Week

Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami), left, and Rep. Jennifer Sullivan (R-Mount Dora) are the bill's sponsors.

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 5:59 pm

A controversial abortion bill that now includes a new exemption is now heading to the Senate Floor, after passing its last committee hearing Monday. It’s also teed up for a vote on the House floor, despite continued opposition.

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HNF Stories
9:01 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Democrats Voice Opposition To Abortion Waiting Period Bill

  As a bill requiring a one-day waiting period for abortions moved toward passage on the Florida House floor Tuesday, Democrats showed their opposition with more than an hour of hostile questions and debate.

The bill was amended to add an exception for victims of rape, incest and human trafficking. But opponents objected to a requirement that the woman produce documentation such as a police report or restraining order to use the exception.

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HNF Stories
8:55 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Florida House Pushes Forward A Handful Of Health Tweaks

State lawmakers are pushing forward a number of tweaks to Florida health policy.

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 5:20 pm

A proposal mandating an abortion waiting period took center stage Tuesday on the House floor.  But lawmakers discussed a handful of other measures that could affect health administration in the state, too.

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HNF Stories
8:44 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Scott Steps Into Health Care Funding Battle

Gov. Rick Scott
Credit Associated Press

 Gov. Rick Scott stepped into the legislative fray over health care funding Tuesday, proposing an idea for moving forward on the state budget that was quickly dismissed by the Senate.

Scott's attempt to break the impasse, which comes with less than two weeks left in the legislative session, followed separate meetings among the full Senate and House Republicans in which both sides seemed to dig in further for a protracted battle over funding for providers of medical care and a potential alternative to Medicaid expansion.

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HNF Stories
8:36 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Fla's Budget Deadline Explodes As Healthcare Standoff Continues

Shands Jacksonville says losing LIP funds could shut it down.

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 5:58 pm

Governor Rick Scott says if the legislature can’t get an answer on healthcare funding, he’ll call a special session to put a continuation budget in place. That would carry the state through the upcoming fiscal year, which begins the first of July. But in the meantime, some hospitals could be forced to shut down as the legislative standoff on healthcare funding continues.

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HNF Stories
8:14 am
Wed April 22, 2015

The Barriers People In The Coverage Gap Face To Get Care

Cynthia Louis with her beloved perm.

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 9:33 am

This is the second part in our series, Falling Into The Gap, in collaboration with the Miami Herald. Read more about the coverage gap and find affordable care on WLRN.org/healthgap.

Before the pain in her arms started, Cynthia Louis would get up each morning, sit on the edge of her bed and fix her shoulder-length hair. In the mirror above her dressing table where her hair products and pins are neatly aligned, she would brush out her curled hair to frame her face.

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HNF Stories
3:44 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

FL KidCare Funding Extended Two Years

Jodi Ray is the Project Director of Florida Covering Kids & Families at the University of South Florida. She helps enroll children in Florida KidCare.

Thousands of Florida children will retain their health care coverage for at least another two years thanks to the passage of the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act.

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HNF Stories
8:59 am
Tue April 21, 2015

City Hospitals Moving to Prosperous Digs

A sign marks the location of a proposed new St. Elizabeth’s hospital in O’Fallon, Mo., on 114 acres of farmland just off Interstate 64.
Credit Phil Galewitz/KHN

Nearly as old as the railroad that slices through this southern Illinois city just east of the Mississippi River, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital has been a downtown bedrock since 1875.

Started by three nuns from a Franciscan order in Germany, the Catholic hospital still seeks “to embody Christ’s healing love” to the sick, the aged and the poor, according to its mission statement.

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HNF Stories
8:39 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Judge Backs AHCA on Immigrant ER Care

Credit AP

An administrative law judge Monday ruled in favor of the state Agency for Health Care Administration in a long-running dispute with hospitals about emergency care for undocumented immigrants.

The case focused on Medicaid payments that hospitals receive when undocumented immigrants go to emergency rooms.

Judge John D.C. Newton, in a 43-page decision, rejected arguments by a coalition of hospitals that the Agency for Health Care Administration had overstepped its authority in approving rules that involve the duration of payments.

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Senate LIP Plan Added to Federal Proposal

Credit Agency for Health Care Administration

The state agency responsible for Medicaid submitted a new proposal Monday to the federal government for up to $2.2 billion in health-care funding, but the move might be too late to break a budget impasse.

The new model for the Low Income Pool, or LIP, program closely follows legislation approved by the state Senate earlier this month. LIP, which is largely used to cover the expenses of uninsured, low-income Floridians who show up at hospitals needing treatment, is set to expire June 30.

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HNF Stories
8:16 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Legislature Sees Movement On Claims Bills

Sen. Denise Grimsley

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 5:16 pm

State lawmakers pushed through six claims bill on Monday.  The 2015 session could be one of the few times the state pays claimants in two years.

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HNF Stories
8:16 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Bill Orders Refunds for Alzheimer Patients

The mentally ill and Alzheimer's patients could get refunds regardless of a no-refund policy under a bill working its way through the Legislature.

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 5:53 pm

Mentally ill consumers, including those with Alzheimer’s disease, would be able to return purchases despite no-refund policies under a bill being sponsored by Democratic Senator Jeremy Ring of Margate. As Jim Ash reports, the bill applies to purchases of 1,000 dollars or more.

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HNF Stories
8:15 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Bills Helping Florida's Kids, Elderly Head To Senate Floor

Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice) speaking during the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee meeting Monday.

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 6:35 pm

A couple of measures aimed at helping Florida’s most vulnerable are now heading to the Senate floor, after passing their last committee Monday.

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HNF Stories
8:15 am
Tue April 21, 2015

The Health Care Gap in the Sunshine Economy

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 7:36 am

More than three-quarters of a million Floridians live in a health care gap. The gap was created by the national Affordable Care Act and Florida's rejection of an expanded Medicaid program. In between the two policies is a gap in medical insurance coverage where 850,000 Floridians find themselves.

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HNF Stories
8:14 am
Tue April 21, 2015

House Approves Experimental Drug Bill, Senate Ready For Floor Debate

Florida lawmakers are considering legislation that would enable terminally ill patients to use experimental drugs without government approval, even after a clinical trial has ended.

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 8:21 am

The Florida House has passed a bill that creates the “Right to Try Act.”  The legislation gives dying patients a chance to try treatments that have undergone clinical trials but haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  

Patients who’ve been diagnosed as having less than a year to live would be eligible for the experimental treatments.

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HNF Stories
8:03 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Florida Agrees to End Lawsuit Over State Worker Drug Tests

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 7:01 am

Florida Gov. Scott and the union that represents state workers are ending their legal battle over drug tests.

Scott in 2011 ordered random testing of roughly 85,000 state workers. The executive order was challenged by the union, and the testing was placed on hold.

The two sides on Monday asked a federal judge to approve a settlement in the case.

The settlement would exempt most state employees from drug tests. It would also require the state to reimburse $375,000 to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

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HNF Stories
8:48 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Orlando Health's New CEO Makes His First Public Appearance

Orlando Health's new CEO David Strong, left, poses for a photo with Dr. Mark Roh, head of the UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health.
Credit WMFE

Orlando Health’s new CEO gave his first public remarks today at an event designating one of its hospitals as a Cancer Center of Excellence.

Strong started his new job six days ago.

“I’ll tell you that a few years ago, I lost my mom to blood cancer, multiple myeloma,” Strong said. “And this is the kind of center that I would have wanted my mom at.”

Strong also talked about the importance of new technology.

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HNF Stories
8:44 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Scott Compares Obama Administration To Sopranos

Credit Associated Press

 Gov. Rick Scott is comparing the Obama administration to the Sopranos and accusing the president of not caring for low-income families, even as the Republican governor refuses to expand Medicaid insurance to more than 800,000 low-income families.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who is considering a run for president, is also weighing in, voicing support for a Senate compromise that would eventually take federal funds and give them to families to purchase private insurance.

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Heroin Deadlier Than Cocaine in Orange, Osceola

Heroin overdoses and deaths are on the rise in Florida.
Credit WMFE

Accidental deaths from drug use is up 26 percent in Orange and Osceola counties, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Heroin overtook cocaine as the deadliest street drug last year. Heroin was found in 89 deaths in Orange and Osceola counties last year, that’s compared to 19 heroin-related deaths in 2011.

Cocaine was a close second, with 88 deaths, and was often used in combination with other drugs. That’s an 89 percent increase from 2012.

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HNF Stories
8:23 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Garcia: Scott Suing Feds Could Hurt LIP

Credit Sammy Mack

As chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, Hialeah Republican Rene Garcia is a key member of Senate President Andy Gardiner's leadership team.

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HNF Stories
8:22 am
Mon April 20, 2015

What It's Like To Be In The Health Coverage Gap In Florida

Cynthia Louis, 57, is one of an estimated thousands in Miami-Dade who are uninsured but would receive Medicaid if the Florida Legislature would approve it.

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 7:42 am

This is the first part in our series, Falling Into The Gap, in collaboration with the Miami Herald. Read more about the coverage gap and find affordable care on WLRN.org/healthgap.

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