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Health News Florida
9:38 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Prison Health Provider Fined

Credit Florida Department of Corrections

The health care company under contract at most of Florida's state prisons was fined $22,500 after the Florida Department of Corrections found the firm did not meet expectations set by their contract, the Ocala Star Banner reports.

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Health News Florida
9:28 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Medicaid Fraud Behind Dental Office Raid

Investigators from the Florida Attorney General's office and other agencies searched an Ocala dentist's office Wednesday as part of a Medicaid fraud investigation, the Ocala Star Banner reports.

HNF Stories
8:49 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Study: Drug Costs Point to Discrimination

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Insurance companies, perhaps more than previously thought, may be charging the sickest patients extra for drugs under the federal health law, in an effort to discourage them from choosing certain plans, according to a study released Wednesday.

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HNF Stories
8:34 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Speaker: 'No Plans' To Expand Medicaid

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli
Credit Mark Foley / Florida House of Representatives

Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Wednesday said his chamber has "no plans" to expand Medicaid coverage to an additional 800,000 residents during the upcoming legislative session.

"We do not plan to do anything on Medicaid expansion," Crisafulli told reporters and editors at the annual Associated Press Legislative Planning Day at the Capitol. "I am a never-say-never kind of guy, and certainly anything can come about that provides opportunity, but at this time we do not plan to hear Medicaid expansion."

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HNF Stories
8:20 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Tampa-Area Hospitals Face $151M Cut

Credit Tampa General Hospital

Hillsborough County hospitals are scheduled to lose more than $151 million a year in funds for care of the uninsured beginning June 30, according to a report released Thursday.

The scheduled changes to two revenue streams “represent a tremendous loss of federal funding to the county and pose a significant risk,” warns the report by the Community Justice Project, part of Florida Legal Services.

Statewide, the coming annual loss will be $2.1 billion, estimates co-author Charlotte Cassel.

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HNF Stories
12:33 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Free Clinics Beat Insurance, for Some

Gary Babcock of Clearwater
Carol Gentry Health News Florida

With open enrollment for health insurance ending in just two weeks, the push is on to get everyone who qualifies signed up. But some of the uninsured are balking, and it’s not only the so-called “young invincibles” who think they don’t need it.

Gary Babcock of Clearwater, for example, is neither young nor invincible.  He’s 55, with diabetes so severe he has to give himself daily insulin shots.

Remove

At his income level, he could choose from several Affordable Care Act plans with no premium, fully subsidized.

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HNF Stories
12:29 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Businesses Driving Expansion Push

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn signed an open letter to the Legislature, advocating for a Medicaid expansion alternative.
Brian Blanco

Florida's Legislature has twice turned down proposals to provide health insurance for nearly 1 million state residents.  And the new House Speaker on Wednesday said he had “no plans” to expand Medicaid for the people caught in the so-called coverage gap.

But still state business leaders – and some mayors – continue to rally and aim to take another swing at it when the Legislature convenes March 3.

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HNF Stories
9:34 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Floridians Picking Plans with Financial Help

Federal health officials say most Floridians who have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act chose a plan that comes with financial assistance.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday that 93 percent of Floridians selected a plan with financial assistance.

As of mid-January, some 1.2 million Florida residents had signed up or were automatically re-enrolled for coverage.

Nationwide, that figure is 9.5 million consumers.

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HNF Stories
9:32 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Senate Bill Targets Troubled Prison System

With Florida's corrections system under scrutiny because of inmate deaths and alleged misconduct, a Senate committee next week will take up a wide-ranging bill aimed at improving prison safety and addressing issues such as the use of force by guards.

The 29-page bill is slated to go Monday to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which heard testimony last week from newly appointed Corrections Secretary Julie Jones. During that testimony, Jones pointed to problems including understaffed prisons and a lack of training for guards who deal with mentally ill inmates.

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HNF Stories
9:29 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Could Indiana Medicaid Expansion Tempt FL?

 The deal reached Tuesday between the Obama administration and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to expand Medicaid under the president’s health law should help sway reluctant Republican officials in other states because it imposes new costs on poor adults, promotes healthy behaviors and relies on financing from smokers and hospitals instead of state taxpayers, health experts say.

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Health News Florida
9:25 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Alzheimer’s Care Costs Growing

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients is emotionally demanding but also is increasingly expensive, according to a Fort Myers News-Press analysis of 10 years of records from state agencies, nursing homes and hospitals.

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Health News Florida
9:03 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Psychiatric Hospital CEO Sentenced for Fraud

The former chief operating officer for the Hollywood Pavilion psychiatric hospital was sentenced to six years in federal prison for his role in a $67 million health care fraud scheme, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

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HNF Stories
8:50 am
Tue January 27, 2015

More Than 600 New Foster Homes Licensed

Mike Carroll, secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families
Credit Department of Children and Families

State child welfare officials have recruited more than 600 news foster homes.

 The increase comes after lawmakers passed a measure in 2013 aimed at improving the quality of people recruited to become foster parents and help retaining them. The program also works to improve child safety and permanency for foster children.

Approximately 10,000 children are in foster placements throughout the state.

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Health News Florida
8:46 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Florida Hospital Sued for Alleged Cover-Up

Florida Hospital Orlando
Credit Florida Hospital

The family of a schizophrenic and developmentally disabled woman filed suit against Florida Hospital for allegedly trying to cover up a sexual assault the woman suffered while in its Orlando psychiatric ward, the Orlando Sentinel reports. 

The woman was assaulted by another psychiatric patient, Antoine Maurice Davis, who is currently serving six-years in prison for the sexual battery, according to the Sentinel

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8:38 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Baker Act Revisions Proposed

Florida’s Legislature may consider revamping the state’s Baker Act law that oversees the involuntary commitment of people thought to be a danger to themselves or others, the News Service of Florida reports. Bills filed in both the House and Senate would look at the amount of time individuals are screened, and may consider using remote, telemedicine consultations to evaluate patients, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Two South Florida lawmakers have filed bills that would require a review of Florida's "Baker Act,'' which allows for the involuntary commitment of people who have mental illnesses and are considered dangers to themselves or others. The proposals (SB 514 and HB 505), filed by Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Boynton Beach, and Rep.
HNF Stories
8:31 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Ex-NFL Players Drop Pounds, Boost Health

Former NFL Players (from left) Rob Taylor, Brian Holloway, James Harrell, and Jason Maniecki pose with Dr. Jon Paul Gonzalvo
Tampa General Hospital & USF Health Bariatric Center

Many people struggle with their weight, and former athletes are no exception.

But athletes who gain weight once they retire are at a higher risk for serious medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. That's why four retired NFL players, including two from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, teamed up as part of a weight loss study by Tampa General Hospital and the USF Health Bariatric Center to tackle their obesity.

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HNF Stories
1:28 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

GOP Lawmaker Files Medical Marijuana Bill

Credit AP

There's a new push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, and a Republican lawmaker is leading the charge.

Though a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana failed in November, Republican lawmaker state Sen. Jeff Brandes has filed a bill to make medical marijuana legal for Florida residents.

"Amendment Two really was kind of a take-it-or-leave-it offer," said Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. 

Brandes filed SB 528 Monday afternoon.

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HNF Stories
10:38 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Scott Wants $7.4 M for Vet Nursing Homes

Credit Associated Press

Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants money to start planning to build the state's eighth and ninth nursing homes for veterans.

Scott will announce Monday that he is asking for $7.4 million from state legislators. Scott wants the money to help build a recently-approved home in St. Lucie County as well as two additional homes.

Groundbreaking on the nursing home in St. Lucie County is scheduled to begin later this year. No sites have been chosen for the next two.

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Health News Florida
9:36 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Hialeah ZIP Code Leads US in Enrollment

 A ZIP code in Hialeah has had more people enroll in a health plan on HealthCare.gov than any other place in the country using the federal exchange, the Miami Herald reports. As of mid-January, 12,330 people in Hialeah’s 33012 ZIP Code had signed up for an insurance plan.

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Health News Florida
9:19 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Ex UM Doctor, Nurse Say Boss Hit Them

A doctor and a registered nurse are suing a University of Miami organ bank supervisor who they say assaulted them at a meeting two years ago in front of dozens of other employees, the Miami Herald reports.

Health News Florida
9:12 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Tighter Rules for In-Home Care Proposed

More rules and licensing requirements could be coming for in-home caregivers in Palm Beach County, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. 

Florida doesn't require licensing or certification for care aides who aren't providing medical care, but as the need for home aides grows, elder advocates say more regulations are needed to protect seniors even on the local level, the Sun Sentinel reports. 

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HNF Stories
8:55 am
Mon January 26, 2015

GMO Mosquitoes May Be Set Loose in Keys

Credit Muhammad Mahdi Karim / Wikimedia Commons

Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases.

Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood.

“This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease,” said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is waiting to hear if the Food and Drug Administration will allow the experiment.

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Consumer
8:50 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Docs Question Medical Pot for Sick Kids

Credit AP

With virtually no hard proof that medical marijuana benefits sick children, and evidence that it may harm developing brains, the drug should only be used for severely ill kids who have no other treatment option, the nation's most influential pediatricians group says in a new policy.

Some parents insist that medical marijuana has cured their kids' troublesome seizures or led to other improvements, but the American Academy of Pediatrics' new policy says rigorous research is needed to verify those claims.

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HNF Stories
8:39 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Court: Cruise Malpractice Ruling Stands

Credit Wikimedia Commons

A federal appeals court has refused to reconsider a decision that opens the door for cruise ship passengers to sue for medical malpractice.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week rejected a bid by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to revisit the ruling. The court noted that none of the 11th Circuit judges voted in support of reconsideration.

Royal Caribbean could still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. A company spokesman said legal options are under review.

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Health First Lawsuit Set for Summer Trial

Credit Health First

A massive anti-trust lawsuit against Brevard County's Health First hospital system could go to trial as soon as this summer, on charges it has a ‘vertical monopoly’ on health care.

Health First officials weren’t available to discuss the lawsuit Friday, but the hospital will likely lay out its defense in court filings in the next 30 days. After that, both sides produce evidence. And in July, a possible jury trial.

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8:25 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Three More AHCA Field Offices Closing

The Agency for Health Care Administration will close field offices in West Palm Beach, Alachua and Panama City this summer, as part of the department's increased use of managed care, the News Service of Florida reports. It joins shuttered offices in Tallahassee and Ocala, which closed last year, according to the News Service.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
With Florida now enrolling most Medicaid beneficiaries in managed-care plans, the Agency for Health Care Administration plans to close three field offices this summer, Secretary Liz Dudek told lawmakers Thursday. The agency last year closed field offices in Tallahassee and Ocala and plans additional closures of offices in West Palm Beach, Panama City and Alachua.
8:18 am
Mon January 26, 2015

DOH Won't Slash Early Steps Budget

Plans to cut $4.2 million from this year's Early Steps budget were put on hold Friday by the Department of Health, the News Service of Florida reports. Department officials told a House subcommittee last week that federal budget cuts were to blame, while some lawmakers said they heard the state's move to a third-party claims administrator was the real cause, the News Service reports. Also in Tallahassee last week, Gov. Rick Scott announced plans to invest $8 million for the state's Agency for Persons with Disabilities.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The state Department of Health on Friday backed off a plan to cut millions of dollars from an early-intervention program that serves babies and toddlers with developmental disabilities and delays. The department last week notified the state's 15 Early Steps offices that $4.2 million would be cut from the program's budget effective immediately -- in the middle of the fiscal year.
HNF Stories
8:56 am
Fri January 23, 2015

Health First Anti-Trust Case Continues

An anti-trust lawsuit that claims Brevard County’s biggest hospital system has a monopoly cleared its first court hurdle.

U.S. District Judge Roy Dalton’s decision allows Omni Healthcare, a Brevard County physician practice, to continue its lawsuit against Health First.

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Opinion
7:35 am
Fri January 23, 2015

Your Weekly Dose of Humor

Jonny Hawkins

Your Dose of Health Humor comes to you every Friday.

HNF Stories
9:13 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Nearly 1.3M Enroll in FL on HealthCare.gov

 The Obama administration is moving closer to its goal of 9.1 million people signed up for private coverage under the president's health care law.

Florida leads the federal marketplace states, with 1,270,995 people enrolled. Texas has nearly 920,000.

The Health and Human Services Department says at least 400,000 people signed up last week. That brought total enrollment in the 37 states served by HealthCare.gov to more than 7.1 million.

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