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10:45 am
Mon July 28, 2014

FMA Supports Medicaid Expansion

  The Florida Medical Association's House of Delegates overwhelmingly adopted a resolution supporting Medicaid expansion to cover uninsured low-income adults at FMA's annual meeting on Sunday, according  to doctors who were there.

FMA, which closes its annual meeting to the media, is expected to issue a news release at some point, offering details on the resolution. Part of the measure reportedly urged better pay for physicians who treat Medicaid patients.

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Health News Florida
9:22 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Scientology Center Plans Expansion

A drug rehabilitation center with ties to the Church of Scientology is planning a 60-bed halfway house in Clearwater, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The Suncoast Rehabilitation Center of Spring Hill has filed paperwork for a facility in Clearwater, home to the church’s headquarters. However, no one with the center or the Church is revealing details, the Times reports.

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Health News Florida
9:05 am
Mon July 28, 2014

No Break for Sick Doc, Pharmacist

Poor health is no excuse to avoid serving time, two health care professionals convicted in separate pill mill schemes have learned.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that both Dr. Ronald John Heromin, 58, of Brandon and pharmacist Steven Goodman, 70, of Treasure Island tried to use physical ailments to alleviate sentences related to their federal court convictions.

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Health News Florida
8:58 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Drug Errors Common at Nursing Homes

More than 40 percent of Florida’s nursing homes have been cited for problems related to medication errors in the past three years, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

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Health News Florida
7:48 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Surgeries Halted, Instruments Tainted?

Officials at a Polk County medical center have shut down surgeries after they suspected a surgical instrument may have been exposed to a rare, fatal brain disease.

David Daniel, the CEO of Lakeland Surgical & Diagnostic Center on North Florida Avenue, says it was highly unlikely the exposure to the disease occurred, but he wanted to take all precautionary measures. The disease is the human form of mad cow disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

HNF Stories
7:39 am
Mon July 28, 2014

ER Workers to Spot Human Trafficking

Emergency room doctors and nurses are often the only contact victims of human trafficking have with the outside world, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said Friday while launching an initiative aimed to train emergency workers how to identify signs of trafficking.

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HNF Stories
7:32 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Federal Court Backs ‘Docs vs. Glocks’ Law

A Florida law restricting what doctors can tell patients about gun ownership was deemed to be constitutional Friday by a federal appeals court, which said it legitimately regulates professional conduct and doesn’t violate the doctors’ First Amendment free speech rights.

The ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned a previous decision that had blocked the state from enforcing the law.

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HNF Stories
7:24 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Lawmakers Near Deal on VA Health Care

Credit U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller

After more than six weeks of sometimes testy talks, House and Senate negotiators have agreed on a compromise plan to fix a veterans health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have scheduled a news conference for this afternoon to unveil a plan expected to authorize billions in emergency spending to lease 27 new clinics, hire more doctors and nurses and make it easier for veterans who can't get prompt appointments with VA doctors to obtain outside care.

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HNF Stories
7:12 am
Mon July 28, 2014

2015 Plan Renewals Not So Automatic

If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.

Insurance exchange customers who opt for convenience by automatically renewing their coverage for 2015 are likely to receive dated and inaccurate financial aid amounts from the government, say industry officials, advocates and other experts.

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Health News Florida
9:29 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Home Health Owner Pleads in $74M Fraud

The owner of a Miami home health care company pleaded guilty for her connection to a $74 million Medicare fraud scheme.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Elsa Ruiz, owner of Professional Home Care Solutions Inc. and administrator of Miami’s LTC Professional Consultants Inc., admitted in federal court on Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

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Associated Press
9:10 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Feds Cap Fines for Not Buying Insurance

Federal officials have capped the amount of money scofflaws will be forced to pay if they don’t buy insurance this year at $2,448 per person and $12,240 for a family of five.

The amount is equal to the national average annual premium for a bronze level health plan. But only those with an income above about a quarter of a million dollars would benefit from the cap. Those making less would still have to pay as much as 1 percent of their annual income.

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HNF Stories
7:39 am
Fri July 25, 2014

FL Medicaid Overhaul Dings WellCare

Credit Tampa Tribune

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. saw its stock price plunge more than 20 percent at one point on Friday after announcing its second-quarter net loss of $7.5 million, due mainly to high medical expenses in connection with the expensive rollout of Florida Medicaid's statewide managed care program.

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HNF Stories
9:40 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Hispanic Health Advocates Push for Votes

An advocate dressed as Uncle Sam presents a check for uninsured Floridians. Advocates are urging state lawmakers to accept the money and expand coverage.
Credit Amy Green / WMFE

Advocates for health insurance are calling on Hispanics to get insured under the Affordable Care Act. And they're asking those same people to vote against lawmakers who oppose Obamacare.

Latino community leaders in Central Florida say more than 200,000 Hispanic Floridians are uninsured. They're urging state lawmakers to accept federal funding and expand health care for all Floridians.

Josephine Mercado of Hispanic Health Initiatives called it a human rights issue.

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Health News Florida
9:27 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Ambulance Charge Ruled Legal

Credit Wikimedia Commons

In Miami, the city can again charge non-residents a $100 surcharge on ambulance rides, the Miami Herald reports.

St. Petersburg resident Cheryl Haigley sued the city in 2010 after being charged for an ambulance ride, after she tripped and fell on a city sidewalk. She said the $100 non-resident surcharge - which was on top of a $345 bill for the ride - was an unfair tax, the Herald reports.

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Q&A: Meaning of Health Law Court Rulings

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

On Tuesday two U.S. appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on a subject that’s important to millions of people:  the availability of subsidies to help purchase coverage under the health-care law.  Kaiser Health New’s Mary Agnes Carey answers some frequently asked questions about those court decisions and how they impact consumers.

Q: What did the courts decide?

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HNF Stories
8:08 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Health Law Impact: 10M Gained Coverage

A new study estimates that more than 10 million adults gained health insurance by midyear as the coverage expansion under President Barack Obama's law took hold in much of the country.

The study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the share of Americans ages 18 to 64 without insurance dropped by a little more than 5 percentage points.

States that embraced the law's Medicaid expansion saw significant coverage gains among low-income uninsured people. About half the states have expanded, but not Florida.

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HNF Stories
2:18 am
Thu July 24, 2014

FL #1 in Rebates; Blue Owes $20M

Insurers must pay $41.7 million in rebates to Florida individuals and employers this summer, an amount that far exceeds refunds in any other state, according to a federal report released Thursday. 

Companies affiliated with Florida Blue in Jacksonville -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and Health Options Inc. -- owe a total of $20 million, nearly half of the total.

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HNF Stories
1:00 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Jobs Needing Less Education Growing

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Home health aides, medical assistants and other workers with less than a four-year college degree account for nearly half of the health care workforce in Florida and across the country, a new Brookings Institute analysis reports.

Between 2009 and 2011, a total of 3.8 million people in 10 different “pre-baccalaureate” fields worked in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, including eight regions in Florida, said Martha Ross, a Brookings fellow and author of the report released today.

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HNF Stories
5:49 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

FDA Rules Could Snuff Out ‘Cigar City’

Tuptim Ploysawon has worked at J.C. Newman Cigar Factory for almost five years.
Lottie Watts WUSF

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants to add new regulations to additional tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, pipe tobacco and cigars.

The proposed regulations are not going down well in Tampa's Ybor City, which has been rolling out cigars since 1886.

At the J.C. Newman Cigar Company, the machines hum and vibrate enough to shake the old wooden floor boards.

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Health News Florida
10:24 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Mom Sues over Inflatable Sumo Injury

A game at a Hialeah Gardens school “spirit day” caused traumatic brain injuries for a 15-year-old freshman who was in an inflatable sumo wrestler suit, according to a lawsuit filed by  the girl and her mother. As the Miami Herald reports, the lawsuit alleges freshman Celaida Lissabet’s school and the event company did not properly fit her helmet. Her lawyer says the teen now has trouble communicating and has reverted to “child-like” behavior. 

Health News Florida
9:41 am
Wed July 23, 2014

85 Jobs Cut at Polk Health Dept.

The expansion of Medicaid managed care is the reason for the elimination of 85 state jobs at the Florida Department of Health in Polk County, the Lakeland Ledger reports. Among the positions that will be eliminated are registered nurses, advanced registered nurse practitioners, licensed practical nurses and health support workers. According to the Ledger, 28 of the positions are vacant.   

Health News Florida
9:38 am
Wed July 23, 2014

FL Amends VA Lawsuit

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration has amended its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The state was using the case of veteran Roland "Dale" Dickerson as an example of  a patient who received subpar medical care at the VA, but a Times review of his medical records revealed the state had its facts wrong in the lawsuit.  

HNF Stories
11:04 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Appeals Courts Split on Subsidies

US Court of Appeals, Washington, DC
Credit US Court of Appeals

An appeals court in Washington, D.C. issued a decision Tuesday that would wipe out an estimated $4.8 billion a year in subsidies to Florida individuals and families who signed up for a health plan on the federal health marketplace this year. That would make health insurance unaffordable to most of the nearly 1 million Floridians who enrolled.

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Health News Florida
8:59 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Halifax to Settle Whistle-Blower Suit

Elin Baklid-Kunz

 The Halifax Health Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on Monday to end the final part of a five-year-long  whistle-blower lawsuit that will cost the public hospital more than $110 million, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal

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Health News Florida
8:50 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Ex-UF Psychiatrist Surrenders License

Dr. Harold E. Smith
Credit UF

A former University of Floirda professor surrendered his state medical license in June to end Board of Medicine charges regarding the 2010 death of a patient, The Gainesville Sun reports. 

Dr. Harold E. Smith, who also has been disciplined for his own drug addictions, agreed to never apply for another license in Florida, the Sun reports. 

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HNF Stories
8:21 am
Tue July 22, 2014

State Cracks Down on Medicaid Marketing

Florida has banned health insurance companies from marketing their plans directly to Medicaid recipients as the state rolls out its massive plan to privatize its health insurance program for low-income individuals and the disabled.

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8:14 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Trauma Center Battle May Be Over

Lead in text: 
The bitter, three-year battle over the expansion of Florida’s hospital trauma centers may have come to a quiet end, the News Service of Florida reports. No appeals were filed by late Monday in the key lawsuit that pitted established, urban trauma centers against newer, suburban facilities wanting to provide specialized emergency services, the News Service reports.
Florida's trauma drama could be almost finished. With an appeal deadline passing Monday, the Florida Department of Health and hospitals owned by HCA Health Care chain appear to have prevailed after a three-year legal and political battle about approving new trauma centers.
8:11 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Disability Pay Calculation Wrong: Court

Lead in text: 
A new payment system for developmentally disabled Floridians needs to be fixed, the News Service of Florida reports. The so-called ‘iBudgets’ system aimed to give people flexibility in the way state money is spent on services, but the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that the way the Agency for Persons with Disabilities calculated payments violated state law, according to the News Service.
An appeals court Monday found that the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities did not properly carry out a law that created a new system of funding services for people with developmental disabilities. The case, brought on behalf of four people with disabilities, focused on a system known as "iBudgets."
HNF Stories
12:53 am
Tue July 22, 2014

FL Nursing Forecast: 50,000 Short

Mary Lou Brunell, Florida Center for Nursing
Credit University of Central Florida

Based on current trends, Florida will be short by more than 50,000 registered nurses by the year 2025, a nursing expert warned a committee of the State University System's Board of Governors on Monday.

While the number of nurse training programs in the state has doubled in the past four years, most of the students are emerging as licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses with just a two-year or associate's degree from college.

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Health News Florida
9:37 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Police: Home Blocking Sex Crime Inquiry

Daytona Beach Police are accusing a nursing home of slowing an investigation into claims that a 75-year-old resident suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease was sexually assaulted, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

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