HNF Stories

WellCare members not stuck

Feb 24, 2009

By Carol Gentry
2/24/2009 © Florida Health News

WellCare drug-plan members left reeling from last week's federal crackdown on the Tampa company are not stuck in WellCare for the rest of 2009, after all. They have options.

Medicare officials did not make that clear until Monday afternoon, after Florida Health News questioned remarks an official made last week.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
2/19/2009 © Florida Health News

TALLAHASSEE – The battle to abolish an obscure Medicaid spending panel has taken on the trappings of a full-fledged political campaign.

 By Christine Jordan Sexton
2/18/2009 © Florida Health News

 By Carol Gentry
2/13/2009 © Florida Health News

As many as 300 Florida doctors now require patients to sign a promise that they will not post Internet comments about them without permission.

Patients promise they “will not denigrate, defame, disparage or cast aspersions upon” the doctor and will do all in their power to prevent friends or family members from doing so.

2/12/2009 © Florida Health News

By Christine Jordan Sexton
2/11/2009 © Florida Health News

TALLAHASSEE—The biggest health care fight of the upcoming legislative session could be over an obscure state panel that recommends how to dole out nearly $1 billion for treating the poor and uninsured. 

The battle has already sparked a slick lobbying campaign featuring a TV ad that raises conflict-of-interest accusations against the members of the Low Income Pool, or LIP Council. Most of them work for hospitals.

By Carol Gentry
2/9/2009 © Florida Health News
Women have two openings below the belt, which don't look anything alike. What are the odds that a doctor would get them mixed up and do a procedure on the wrong one -- not just once, but twice? What are the odds that such a doctor would keep his medical license?

By Carol Gentry
2/6/2009 © Florida Health News

The Florida Board of Medicine revoked the license of an abortion-clinic doctor on Friday, finding him guilty of medical malpractice in a 2006 case involving a fetus allegedly born alive and stuffed in a biohazard bag.

Gynecologist Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique ducked into the men's room to avoid reporters after the board's unanimous vote. Records indicate he now lives in New York state.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
2/5/2009 © Florida Health News

TALLAHASSEE— Even as critics predicted the pullout of Medicaid Reform's major contractor will be the "nail in the coffin" for the experimental program, AHCA Secretary Holly Benson defended it Thursday, saying her staff would find other plans for all 78,000 beneficiaries affected and raising the possibility that new plans will enter the market.

By Christine Jordan Sexton and Carol Gentry
 2/4/2009 © Florida Health News 
TALLAHASSEE -- WellCare Health Plans, Florida's largest Medicaid HMO contractor, will pull out of the "Reform" project in Broward and Duval counties on May 1, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration, which released a letter concerning the move.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
2/3/2009 © Florida Health News

Florida’s fiscal crisis recently spurred two groups to do the unthinkable: Nursing homes asked to be taxed, and the Republican-controlled Legislature agreed to do it.

Now, group homes that provide care and training for the developmentally disabled may ask for the same tax when lawmakers convene for their regular session in March.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
1/29/2009 © Florida Health News

Records of complaint investigations against doctors, nurses, and other licensed health professionals in Florida should be available to the public in the same way as those who have state licenses in other fields, according to a new report released Wednesday.

1/28/2009 © Florida Health News
The cost of health insurance for a Florida family will double to about $22,000 by 2016 if strong actions aren't taken to stop unproductive spending, according to a report released Wednesday by Florida Public Interest Research Group. The 24-page report cites a number of ways to reduce waste in the health-care system.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
1/22/2009 © Florida Health News

TALLAHASSEE—Medicaid HMO patients will be allowed to drop out of their health plans and switch their care to other doctors under a pair of administrative and legal actions recently approved by the state. Medicaid HMO patients will be told that they can leave their health plan if their doctors aren’t in the network of the managed care organization or if their care is poor, denied or unreasonably delayed, among other things. 

By Carol Gentry
1/16/2009 © Florida Health News

United Healthcare’s toll-free operators tell callers that its Cover Florida plans are sold exclusively through brokers. They send out a list with 23 names.

The trouble is, there are no brokers north of Ocala selling United’s products in the state-sponsored program for the uninsured. The only company selling Cover Florida in the entire upper part of the state is Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida.

By Christine Jordan Sexton
1/15/2009 © Florida Health News

Florida lawmakers have siphoned off millions of dollars paid by health care professionals, the insurance industry and the business community in order to help wipe out a $2.4-billion budget deficit.

 By Carol Gentry
1/14/2009 © Florida Health News 

Congress is poised to extend the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Florida, which has more than 800,000 uninsured children, needs to find matching funds to get its share.

Two Democrats from the state have pitched a solution to the incoming administration, but since it would give a break only to some states, it's unclear whether it will fly.
 

By Carol Gentry
1/13/2009 © Florida Health News

More than 855,000 Medicare patients in Florida will see their health coverage change if President-elect Barack Obama follows through on a statement he made Sunday. 

By Christine Jordan Sexton and Carol Gentry
1/6/2009 © Florida Health News

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida’s ambitious effort to help lower the state’s number of uninsured has gotten off to a bumpy start. 

By Carol Gentry
12/23/2008 © Florida Health News 

Bowing to a decision by federal authorities, the Agency for Health Care Administration has shelved a plan to shift Medicaid patients in 25 counties into managed care -- mostly HMOs -- if they didn't specifically request not to be moved. The provision, passed in the most recent session, was seen as a gift to Medicaid HMOs because it was expected to bring them thousands of new recipients in 25 counties. (See FHN's article published May 1.)

By Carol Gentry
10/23/2008 © Florida Health News
United Healthcare of Florida Inc., one of two companies the state chose as statewide contractors for Cover Florida, will offer a preventive-care plan for an average premium of $80 a month and one that adds hospital coverage for $200 a month, CEO David Lewis says.

United’s premium prices are higher than those of the other statewide vendor, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. But its lifetime maximum per person is also much higher.

Paul Kujda By Susan Jaffe
7/11/2008 © Florida Health News

10/04/07 © Florida Health News
Brooksville—Despite a heavy rain, local children’s health care and peace advocates gathered outside the Brooksville office of U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite Thursday to urge her to vote to override Bush’s veto of the State Children’s Heath Insurance Program (SCHIP) expansion bill.

The MoveOn.org sponsored event brought out members of the Florida Peace Action Network, the Hernando Green Party and others to advocate for healthcare not warfare.  T-shirts with slogans such as "Every Child Left Behind" were strung on a clothesline.

 07/31/07 © Florida Health News
Lisa A. Plowfield, known for establishing health services for the elderly and other  vulnerable populations, will take the helm Aug. 9 as new dean of Florida State University’s College of Nursing.
While the director of the University of Delaware’s School of Nursing, Plowfield oversaw an increase in faculty research, a new nurse residency curriculum, a new state-of-the-art simulation center and an increase in state funding.

06/06/07 © Florida Health News
By practicing “healthy behaviors”, Florida Medicaid reform plan participants can earn up to $125 a year to spend on items such as over-the-counter medications, first aid supplies, vaporizers and blood pressure monitors.

Only they don’t. Most of the $3 million in credits earned in the six months leading up to April 30 remains in the bank, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration.

04/28/07 © Florida Health News
Following two hours of emotional debate, the Florida House Friday passed an abortion bill that proponents say protects a woman’s rights and opponents say takes them away.

Among its key requirements is that a women must have an ultrasound and wait 24 hours before having abortion. 

The 71 to 42 vote approving the bill fell largely along party lines, with only two Republicans voting against the measure.

 04/24/07 © Florida Health News 
House and Senate Health and Human Services budget conferees rearched agreement this morning on how much to earmark for a new matching grant program aimed at developing treatment options for people with mental illnesses involved in the criminal justice system.
Senate budget negotiators agreed to match the $2 million already recommended by their House counterparts.

03/28/07 © Florida Health NewsTaxpayers could save money by supporting development of more mental health courts in Florida, say supporters of a matching grant program now pending in the Legislature.

In such courts, persons who are charged with nonviolent crimes and who have mental illnesses are sentenced to community treatment programs. A recent study by the Rand Corp. found this reduces their jail time and their chances of re-arrest. (See Mental Health Courts Save Money, in right-hand column.)

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