HNF Stories

By Christine Giordano
4/7/2009 © Health News Florida
 
Declaring they have “zero tolerance for fraud,” members of the Florida Board of Medicine revoked the license of a Winter Park doctor who forged credentials making him appear an expert in pain management.

Juan Richards didn’t just hang the phony certificate on the wall, the Department of Health said in its complaint. He also tricked insurers into thinking he was certified by the American Board of Pain Management.

By Christine Giordano
4/6/2009 © Florida Health News

Fort Myers plastic surgeon Marc Schneider accepted a reprimand and $10,000 fine as a “fair” end to state charges that he neglected a breast-reduction to the point that the patient got gangrene.

Members of the Board of Medicine, which heard the five-year-old case on Friday afternoon, faulted Schneider for leaving too much responsibility in the hands of office staff and for doing an unessential operation on a high-risk patient.

By Carol Gentry
4/3/2009 © Health News Florida

Florida pays managed-care plans $2.5 billion a year to make sure Medicaid patients in the state get taken care of properly, including getting their screenings, shots and other important preventive care on time.

But new research from 2008 shows Florida’s Medicaid managed-care plans, while doing marginally better than in 2007, still fell significantly below the national average on standardized scores accepted by the industry.

By Gary Fineout
4/2/2009 © Health News Florida
 
Florida could miss out on millions in federal aid that would benefit children unless it makes changes to the KidCare program.

The Florida Health Policy Center has concluded in a new report that the state could draw down additional federal money under the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program,  passed by Congress and signed into law in February by President Barack Obama.

By Carol Gentry
4/2/2009 © Health News Florida

Some patients travel to other countries to get a price break. But how many take their surgeons with them? 

Last month, a Miami-area surgeon and one of his prostate cancer patients flew together to Trinidad so that the uninsured patient could afford the procedure he wanted.

By Gary Fineout
4/1/2009 © Health News Florida

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/31/2009 © Health News Florida

Calling Miami-Dade County “ground zero” for Medicaid fraud, the Legislature is cracking down on rogue home health agencies, clinics and equipment suppliers in South Florida.

Today, the House Health and Family Services Policy Council will consider a bill (CS/HB 1487) that would prevent any new home health agencies from operating in Miami-Dade and Broward counties until July 2010.

3/30/2009 © Florida Health News
 
Medicaid Reform could branch off in a new direction under a proposal that could emerge from a House committee this week. It would set up "medical homes" for patients using community health centers, based on the famed Mayo Clinic model of having a whole team consulting on a patient's needs in one site.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/27/2009 © Florida Health News

A proposal unveiled by the Senate spending committee on Thursday would cripple -- maybe kill -- the second phase of the controversial “Medicaid Reform” pilot. The Senate budget also would cut Medicaid payments 3 percent to hospitals, nursing homes and HMOs.

However, it would restore funding to the state's Medically Needy program, which helps working families struggling to pay large medical bills. Lawmakers have to revive that program to qualify for federal stimulus money. 

3/29/2009 © Florida Health News

Can a state Medicaid program cut treatments to a child if a doctor says they are medically necessary? Three states, including Florida,  say yes, and made that argument this week before a federal appeals court in Atlanta.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/25/2009 Florida Health News

TALLAHASSEE – Nearly 1,000 people, most of them middle-aged women, have signed up for a new state-promoted insurance program that requires participating companies to take all comers. 

Gov. Charlie Crist, who pushed the Cover Florida program last year, said Tuesday that the six insurance companies participating have fielded more than 10,000 calls from interested Floridians and that 952 people had enrolled as of March 15. 

By Carol Gentry
3/24/2009 © Florida Health News

Federal authorities have ordered private Medicare plans to stop paying hundreds of dollars in “referral fees” to sales agents who steer a beneficiary to a company for enrollment. The practice came to light in a Florida Health News article on Feb. 6.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/19/2009 © Florida Health News

Florida had 5.8 million residents who went without health coverage at some point in 2007-08, nearly 3/4 of them for more than six months, according to a report released today by Families USA.

3/19/2009 Florida Health News

Well, it's happened again: Florida scored worse than the national average, from a public-health standpoint, in all categories in a report on births for 2007. The state had a greater percentage of teen mothers than average and widened its lead over most other states in two categories -- births to unmarried women and the percentage of Caesarean births.

Pill puzzle: flush or crush?

Mar 19, 2009

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/20/2009 © Florida Health News

A curious ritual occurs once a month at Palm Gardens nursing home in Tampa. 

Administrator Scott Allen, a pharmacist and the supervisor of nursing sort through drawers where painkillers, anti-depressants and other drugs are stored when patients die or leave. Usually they come up with about $5,000 worth.

It takes them about three hours to find all the leftover drugs, remove them from the packaging and fill out the paperwork. Then they dispose of them down the toilet.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/18/2009 © Florida Health News

Two lawmakers have asked Gov. Charlie Crist to investigate a miscue by the Florida Board of Nursing, which met last month in violation of the Sunshine Law. Now the board will have to hold a do-over in April so that its actions will be official.

The legally required notice didn’t come out until Feb. 6, the last day of the three-day meeting in Tallahassee, according to State Rep. Denise Grimsley, a nurse, and Sen. Durell Peaden, a retired doctor.

WellCare hints it owes more

Mar 17, 2009

 3/17/2009 © Florida Health News

Without elaborating, WellCare Health Plans signaled on Monday that it may have to pay more than it had hoped to settle a fraud investigation that became public knowledge when the company's Tampa headquarters were raided by FBI agents in October 2007.

3/16/2009 © Florida Health News

A lot of doctors cite cost as the barrier to going paperless. Others need technical help. Today, University of South Florida announced an initiative to blow past both of those barriers: "PaperFree Tampa Bay."

By Carol Gentry
3/12/2009 © Florida Health News

For 20 years, Dr. Mark Kantzler has been getting into trouble with prescription painkillers, records show.. Sometimes it’s from his own addiction, sometimes from the prescriptions he writes. 

He’s been suspended from practice twice. A newspaper featured him in a 2003 series on dangerous over-prescribers. He paid a $700,000 settlement in 2003 for a patient’s death from a drug overdose and now is being sued in another death. 

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/12/2009 © Florida Health News

Gov. Charlie Crist’s proposed budget would remove a funding threat to five county health departments that was due to take effect in September as part of Medicaid Reform.

As Florida Health News recently reported, public health analysts were predicting county clinics would lose millions of dollars a year and no longer be able to care for the uninsured if the payment formula changed.

HMO says exec stole $1.3M

Mar 11, 2009

By Christine Giordano
 3/11/2009 © Florida Health News

Citrus Health Care, which reported big losses last year, may have been the victim of more than a bad business climate. Its director of compliance – the one in charge of keeping the company honest -- scammed Citrus Health out of $1.3 million, according to a civil lawsuit filed in Hillsborough circuit court.

Correspondence in the file indicates that the FBI is investigating.

By Carol Gentry
3/10/2009 © Florida Health News

As a member of the state’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, psychiatrist Michael Bengtson advises the Florida Medicaid program on which drugs need to be available to patients without a hassle, within the budget available.

3/10/2009 © Florida Health News

How good are Medicare beneficiaries at shopping for the best deal in insurance coverage, given a large array of choices?
Not very, according to a study that has significant implications for Florida because of the staggering number of choices here.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/6/2009 © Florida Health News

With consolidation on the minds of cash-strapped state officials, some are jumping on a new report by government auditors suggesting a joint effort on buying and packaging prescription drugs. 

By Paul Metts
3/5/2009 Florida Health News

By Christine Jordan Sexton
3/4/2009 © Florida Health News

Last year, Senator Durell Peaden was Gov. Charlie Crist’s health-care point man. He was primary sponsor of the Cover Florida Health plan and helped the governor in other ways.

But Peaden, who chairs the Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee, won’t be carrying the ball for the governor this year. A retired physician from Crestview, Peaden has vowed to work against Crist’s attempted merger of the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration.

3/4/3009 © Florida Health News 

A coalition of consumer advocacy groups rallied at the Capitol today to urge lawmakers to raise the cigarette tax, plug loopholes in sales-tax exemptions and find other ways to bridge the budget gap. 

They called Gov. Charlie Crist's request to the Legislature to rely on the federal stimulus a "shell game," while he said the money would create more than 200,000 jobs that "the people of Florida desperately need." He said he was grateful to get the money and pre 

By Gary Fineout
3/3/2009 © Florida Health News

Requiring women to get an ultrasound screening before they can have an abortion, an issue that roiled the past two legislative sessions, is back. This time, its odds of passage have improved.
  
In the waning moments of last year’s session, an identical bill died on a 20-20 tie vote in the Florida Senate. But two of the seven Republicans who voted against the measure have left the Senate due to term limits.

By Carol Gentry
2/27/2009 © Florida Health News 

A former state health official says a clause in Florida’s Medicaid Reform plan will cost hospitals nearly $4 billion a year in uninsured emergency-room visits if the pilot project expands statewide. 

Aside from the financial impact, the influx of patients will flood emergency rooms and make it difficult for patients in need of immediate attention to get it, according to health consultant Paul Metts, former deputy secretary at DOH.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
2/27/2009 © Florida Health News

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s Cover Florida plan got most of the attention last year, but it wasn’t the only health-insurance initiative that passed the 2008 Legislature.

The forgotten one, Florida Health Choices, is only now coming together. Its new board was to hold its organizational meeting today, just as the 2009 session is about to begin. 

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