HNF Stories

By Carol Gentry and Mary Jo Melone
8/25/2009 © Health New Florida

Florida’s Board of Medicine has dismissed charges of substandard care against a Central Florida physician in the same case that brought a medical malpractice settlement of $1 million.

Lake Mary urologist Michael Friedman was cleared after physicians on the board reviewed the patient’s charts and determined he didn’t make a mistake in the treatment of Harold Knowles of Seminole County.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
8/21/2009 © Health News Florida 

At long last, the University of Florida analysis of Medicaid Reform is in, and it concludes that the controversial program does, indeed, save money. Critics called it "meaningless" because HMOs have not yet turned in data on patients' actual encounters with the health-care system.

By Gary Fineout
8/20/2009 © Health News Florida

WellCare Health Plans gave illegal campaign contributions to dozens of Florida’s legislators and top officials, including the current attorney general and top health regulator, between 2005 and 2007, according to a Florida Elections Commission report.

In addition to now-Attorney General Bill McCollum and Holly Benson, secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration, recipients included current Senate President Jeff Atwater and House Speaker Larry Cretul.

By Carol Gentry
8/19/2009 © Health News Florida

An erroneous report warning that health reform would bankrupt Florida Medicaid was the result of a misunderstanding, a spokeswoman for the Agency for Health Care Administration said today in an e-mail. 

By Gary Fineout 
7/31/2009 Health News Florida

The Florida fund that pays the health care bills for tens of thousands of state employees will become insolvent in two years unless something drastic is done, state economists say. Someone has to fix the fund, either the taxpayers or state workers, and a top state senator says it should not be the taxpayers.

By Carol Gentry
8/17/2009 © Health News Florida

The federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid coverage under all health-reform bills now pending in Congress. States wouldn't have to pay anything until at least 2014 under any version in the House or Senate.


By Carol Gentry
8/14/2009 © Health News Florida

Patients in the hospital may want to start wearing prominent name tags; apparently those little ID bracelets aren’t enough, judging from two cases that came before the Florida Board of Medicine this morning.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
8/13/2009 © Health News Florida

Even though Florida Medicaid already faces a deficit, HMOs are in line to get a 3 percent premium increase to treat the poor, elderly and disabled as of Sept. 1.

While lawmakers had budgeted a slight decrease in HMO rates, state Medicaid officials say actuaries refuse to approve those rates.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
8/7/2009 © Health News Florida

Kathleen Lieberman has been trying for years to find affordable health insurance.
Small-group? Too expensive. Adding her to her husband’s plan? Unaffordable. Discount medical card? Too scary, since there’s no hospital coverage. 

By Carol Gentry 
8/4/2009 © Health News Florida

About 1 million Medicaid patient, mostly children, were wrongly dropped from the August eligibility rolls over the weekend because of a computer glitch, the Agency for Health Care Administration has confirmed. 

Of those, 400,000 enrolled in managed care were never at risk because plans had already sent their names to doctors' offices, said AHCA spokeswoman Shelisha Durden. The mistake had been corrected as of Tuesday morning, she said.

By Carol Gentry
7/31/2009 © Health News Florida

State Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty confirmed Thursday that regulators are looking into whether some Florida health plans have been using a flawed database to figure out how much to pay out-of-network doctors. If so, patients may have been shouldering more than their share of the bill for years.

By Carol Gentry
7/30/2009 © Health News Florida
Insurance Consumer Advocate Sean Shaw is calling on state regulators to find out which health plans operating in Florida have been using a pay scale that tricks patients into paying more than their share of the bill when they get treatment outside their plan's network. Shaw cites a Senate study saying millions of Americans were cheated.

By Carol Gentry
7/28/2009 © Health News Florida

Seven doctors recently appointed to a state panel aimed at controlling pill mills have only a few weeks to decide how pain medicine can legally be practiced in Florida. 

The new law that allows for an electronic database for prescription narcotics also requires pain practitioners to register with state health authorities by early January, so rules about qualifications and the forms needed to apply must be ready well before then. 

By Carol Gentry
7/24/2009 Health News Florida

St. Petersburg neurosurgeon David McKalip apologized Thursday night for forwarding an e-mail that included a picture of President Obama dressed like a witchdoctor in a loincloth and feather headdress, with bones in his nose. It bears the legend: “Obama-Care, coming soon to a clinic near you.” 

7/21/2009 © Health News Florida

A consumer group that favors the House version of health reform says it would expand coverage to 1.8 million Floridians in its first year, 2013, and would cover nearly 3 million Floridians by the year 2019.

The report, called "Coverage for America: We All Stand to Gain," was released Tuesday by Families USA, a non-profit consumer advocacy group in Washington, D.C. 

By David Gulliver and Carol Gentry
7/22/2009 © Health News Florida

Judging by Florida’s online healthcare guide, Jackson Health System in Miami is among an elite group of 14 best hospitals for treating heart attacks.

But a federal guide backed by Medicare’s parent agency shows Jackson as among the country’s worst.

What’s a heart patient to do?

7/21/2009 © Health News Florida

Dr. Robert Brooks, Florida's former secretary of health and a former Florida state legislator, is joining University of South Florida Health, where he is expected to help build the school's health leadership program and spearhead the medical school's admissions process.

In a Tuesday news release, USF announced Brooks was recruited from Florida State to "build upon his well-established research and teaching record." Brooks will be a professor of medicine and public health and associate vice president for health leadership.

 7/21/2009 © Health News Florida

The number of women and children enrolling in Medicaid, the safety net health care program for the poor, and KidCare is expected to  rise as the state economy continues to lag, a reports says.

The News Service of Florida reports that state economists spent Monday going over new forecasts for both the Medicaid program – which is funded with a combination of state and federal money – and KidCare, the state-subsidized children’s health insurance program.

By Carol Gentry
7/21/2009 © Health News Florida

Elaine Grace of Bali-Hi Trading Co. in Tallahassee could remain insured only by working a second job, since the premiums cost almost as much as the rent.

By Carol Gentry
7/17/2009 © Health News Florida

Even though health care is the nation’s hottest political issue, no elected officials are among the five Florida finalists for a magazine contest called the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare.” In fact, you may not have heard of some of them.

They include two physicians-turned-executives, one appointed state agency chief, a former hospital administrator who’s on the lecture circuit and the CEO of a hospital company. 

By David Gulliver
7/16/2009 © Health News Florida

Hospitals affiliated with state medical schools were Florida’s big winners in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of "America's Best Hospitals."

Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville and Tampa General Hospital tied with seven top-50 rankings apiece. (Tampa General is the main teaching hospital for University of South Florida).

By Carol Gentry
7/15/2009 Health News Florida

Because half his face is missing, Jerry Kidd of Pompano Beach hasn’t left the house much in the past three years. He doesn’t like being stared at, and at 6-foot-4, he’s hard to miss.

What cost him his face was a 10-week delay between his biopsy -- which showed aggressive squamous-cell skin cancer -- and treatment. By the time he was referred to a surgeon, records show, the cancer had doubled in size and invaded the bone and face muscles.

7/14/2009 © Health News Florida
In what analysts are calling a "major shakeup," the Defense Department is switching two of its regional Tricare  contractors -- including the one that manages health benefits for hundreds of thousands of Floridians on active duty, their dependents, and military retirees.

By Carol Gentry
7/10/2009 © Health News Florida

Almost $69 million in federal stimulus money has been pumped into Florida’s community health centers so far this year, and there may be more to come, according to federal documents. The cash should enable the centers to raise the number of patients served from 852,000 to about 1 million.

7/9/2009 © Health News Florida

A woman who worked as a registered nurse at a radiation oncology center in Sun City Center, near Tampa, for 18 months was actually an imposter, according to the Department of Health. The ruse was discovered in a license check by the clinic.

Brenda Grey Miller, 57, had used a phony nursing license bearing her name and the license number of an actual RN with a similar name, according to DOH. The agency said Miller has never been a licensed nurse in Florida.

7/9/2009 USA Today/Health News FL

Manatee Memorial had the highest death rate in the state for heart failure patients in a comparison of hospitals' Medicare data from 2005 through 2008, according to government data. It also had one of the 10 highest death rates for heart attack and pneumonia patients.  Health News Florida ran the check on a user-friendly portal at USA Today.  

7/9/2009 © Health News Florida

Two more deaths from H1N1 swine flu have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control for Florida, the Department of Health announced today.