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8:41 am
Tue July 28, 2015

No Injuries After Shots Fired At UF Campus

Clay Allen Shanks, left, and Sara Elizabeth Gooden
Alachua County Jail

Two Gainesville residents face multiple charges following an argument that escalated into gunshots being fired outside a University of Florida dormitory.

University police Maj. Brad Barber told The Gainesville Sun an argument broke out as people were leaving a bar.

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Tue July 28, 2015

Auto Insurer Pushes For Hospital Contracts

Wikimedia Commons

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance is asking the Florida Supreme Court to take up a dispute about whether a Jacksonville hospital needs to turn over information about contracts with health insurers.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal last month ruled in favor of Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, which now is known as UF Health Jacksonville, in the dispute stemming from personal-injury protection auto-insurance claims.

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HNF Stories
8:26 am
Tue July 28, 2015

Execution Cocktail Arguments Continue

Florida Department of Corrections

Lawyers for Death Row inmate Jerry Correll on Monday backed a decision by the Florida Supreme Court to send his case back to a circuit judge, after Attorney General Pam Bondi's office asked justices to reconsider the decision.

Justices, in a 5-2 ruling last week, refused to lift a stay of Correll's execution and sent the case to a Central Florida circuit court for further consideration. Bondi's office responded Friday by asking for a rehearing in the state Supreme Court.

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Health News Florida
9:15 am
Mon July 27, 2015

Pharmacist Strikes Fraud Plea Deal

Under a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice, a Miami pharmacist has pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud for his role in submitting more than $1.8 million in false claims to Medicare, according to a news release from the DOJ. Evelio Fernandez Penaranda, the owner of  Naranja Pharmacy Inc., admitted to submitting claims for Medicare beneficiaries and doctors without their consent.

HNF Stories
8:53 am
Mon July 27, 2015

FL Medicaid Plans Seek Raise From State Amid Losses

Insurers participating in Florida's new Medicaid managed care program say they've lost $542 million through 2014 and want the state to raise their rates. But after losing major federal funding for hospitals, Gov. Rick Scott doesn't want to use any more state money for the Medicaid program.

Scott and the insurers are locked in intense negotiations that could undermine the fledgling program that gives federal funds to private health insurance companies to oversee medical care for poor and disabled people instead of reimbursing doctors and hospitals for each service.

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HNF Stories
8:52 am
Mon July 27, 2015

Orlando VA Medical Center Faces Nurse Shortage

The hospital has more than 1,300 positions that have yet to be filled.
WMFE

Officials at Orlando’s VA Medical Center at Lake Nona are struggling with a shortage of nurses and doctors.

The hospital has more than 1,300 vacancies to treat Central Florida’s 400,000 veterans.

The number of veterans continues to rise, along with demand for treatment, spokesman Michael Strickler said.

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HNF Stories
8:37 am
Mon July 27, 2015

UCF Offers Nursing Grad Students Loan Help

The University of Central Florida is offering nurses seeking a doctorate degree a loan forgiveness opportunity.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the school is offering nursing students a loan to cover the cost of online classes. They can then have 85 percent of that debt wiped away if they agree to teach at a college after graduation.

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Health News Florida
8:35 am
Mon July 27, 2015

Challenge Looms Over Medical Pot Applications

WMFE

Even before selecting five nurseries to become Florida's first legal pot producers, Department of Health officials will face a challenge from at least one grower whose application was tossed out because it was late.

The department's Office of Compassionate Use staff rejected two of the 30 applications from nurseries hoping to get chosen as one of the five coveted "dispensing organizations." Both were tossed because they were received after a 5 p.m. deadline following a frenzied scene during a torrential downpour July 8 at the agency's headquarters.

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HNF Stories
7:36 am
Fri July 24, 2015

Hospital Commission Makes Final Stop

Lottie Watts WUSF

Gov. Rick Scott’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding’s “Spotlight Transparency Tour” made its last scheduled stop Thursday at Miami-Dade College’s Medical Campus.

This meeting included a presentation from Steven Sonenreich, chief executive officer of the private non-profit Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. He said there’s an industry-wide transparency problem when it comes to the rates of services.

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Thu July 23, 2015

State Medical Pot Office Gets New Chief

WMFE

State health officials on Wednesday announced that Christian Bax will replace Patricia Nelson as the new head of the Office of Compassionate Use, the agency charged with overseeing Florida's medical marijuana law.

Nelson's abrupt departure Friday sent ripples throughout the medical marijuana industry.

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HNF Stories
8:30 am
Thu July 23, 2015

Medical Pot Group Submits 100,000 Petitions

Laurie Avacado Wikimedia Commons

The group trying to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is making headway in its second push to get the initiative on the ballot.

United For Care shipped more than 100,000 signatures Wednesday to election officials across the state. United For Care campaign manager Ben Pollara says the group still needs to collect more than 500,000 petitions.

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HNF Stories
8:29 am
Thu July 23, 2015

Birdhouse Prompts Bomb Scare Near Hospital

Note- This is not the same birdhouse that prompted the bomb scare.
André Karwath/Wikimedia Commons

Authorities say a birdhouse prompted a bomb scare outside a Sarasota hospital.

Police say a “suspicious package” was reported Wednesday morning outside Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Traffic in the area was blocked off, and the building was placed on a “diversion” lockdown, meaning no patients were allowed in and out.

HNF Stories
8:18 am
Thu July 23, 2015

Dudek Blasts Medicaid Rate Hike Requests

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek
Agency for Health Care Administration

A state health care official has criticized a proposed rate increase by private health plans that cover Florida's poorest residents.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the plans, which work with Medicaid, say they need to raise rates by 12 percent to offset the rising cost of prescription drugs and an uptick in doctor's visits.

  Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek disagrees, writing in a letter to the plans Friday that some plans were paying hospitals more than is legally allowed.

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HNF Stories
7:35 am
Thu July 23, 2015

Kids Count: Health Measures Improve In FL

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Florida is faring poorly on economic factors that influence child poverty, but key health indicators -- from low-birthweight babies to child health insurance rates and teens who abuse drugs and alcohol –  have improved, according to the latest Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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Health News Florida
9:34 am
Wed July 22, 2015

Palm Beach Health District CEO Resigns

Dr. Ron Wiewora

The CEO of the taxpayer-supported Palm Beach County Health Care District resigned Tuesday after a no-confidence vote by the board, the Palm Beach Post reports.   Dr. Ron Wiewora spent 15 years with the health district, which coordinates the county’s safety net health care services for the poor at Lakeside Medical Center in Belle Glade and the C.L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics, the Post reports.

HNF Stories
9:08 am
Wed July 22, 2015

Jackson, Molina Officials To Face Hospital Commission

The commission also met in Tampa on June 17.
Lottie Watts WUSF

A commission formed by Gov. Rick Scott to delve into health-care funding issues will meet Thursday in Miami and hear a presentation from Jackson Health System President and CEO Carlos Migoya and insurance officials.

The Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding will meet at the Miami Dade College Medical Campus and also will hear presentations by David Pollack, president of the insurer Molina Healthcare of Florida, Inc., and Eric Johnson, director of life and health product review at the state Office of Insurance Regulation.

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HNF Stories
9:03 am
Wed July 22, 2015

Statewide School Vaccine Push Under Way

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Florida Department of Health is kicking off a series of events across the state where students can get immunizations needed for school – for free.

In the first of dozens of events statewide hosted by the Florida Department of Health offering free immunizations for students, the third floor of the Orange County School’s administration building was packed Tuesday with dozens of parents and students waiting patiently for their shot in the arm.

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HNF Stories
1:51 pm
Tue July 21, 2015

Court Backs Medical Malpractice Change

A state appeals court Tuesday upheld the constitutionality of a controversial change in Florida's medical-malpractice laws, ruling in part that some privacy rights are "waived" when people pursue malpractice lawsuits.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal stemmed from a 2013 law, which the Republican-controlled Legislature passed after a lobbying battle between groups such as doctors and plaintiffs' attorneys. A federal appeals court last year also upheld the change in a separate case.

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HNF Stories
8:38 am
Tue July 21, 2015

Two More Die in Separate Pool Drownings

Rufino Uribe Wikimedia Commons

Authorities say a 49-year-old woman has drowned in a family swimming pool in Clearwater.

The woman's mother found her floating in the backyard pool around 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Police say Barbara Reed unsuccessfully tried to pull Tammy Blanton from the pool. She called 911 and paramedics began administering CPR. Blanton was declared dead a short time later.

Also on Monday evening, police say a 7-year-old boy drowned in a backyard pool in nearby Pinellas Park. The child was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead. His name was not released.

HNF Stories
8:34 am
Tue July 21, 2015

County Considers Civil Charges For Pot

Associated Press

Leaders in Alachua County are considering whether to lighten the penalties for marijuana possession.

Commissioners voted 5-0 Tuesday to have the county attorney investigate a change that would let officers treat marijuana possession as a civil infraction.

The Gainesville Sun ( http://bit.ly/1JhjAv3 ) reports Commissioner Lee Pinkoson emphasized that such a change would not decriminalize marijuana. Instead, law enforcement officers would have leeway in giving a compliant, first-time offender a civil citation rather than a criminal one.

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HNF Stories
8:30 am
Tue July 21, 2015

FL Shines in Home Health Star Ratings

Census.Gov

The federal government released a new five-star rating system for home health agencies, hoping to bring clarity to a fast-growing but fragmented corner of the medical industry where it’s often difficult to distinguish good from bad.

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HNF Stories
12:20 am
Tue July 21, 2015

Kids Count: Economy Hurts FL Children

Norin Dollard
Credit Kids Count Florida

The latest Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that childhood poverty and family unemployment were major factors behind Florida's rank of 37th in the country for child well-being.

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HNF Stories
10:37 am
Mon July 20, 2015

Judge Awarded For Mental Illness Work

Miami-Dade County Judge Steve Leifman

A Miami-Dade County judge has won state Supreme Court recognition for creating programs that have kept thousands of mentally ill people out of jail and into treatment.

Florida Chief Justice Jorge Labarga gave a newly established award for judicial excellence to Judge Steve Leifman, who created the Miami-Dade criminal mental health project in 2000. The program has diverted about 4,000 mentally ill people who are not safety risks from jail into treatment.

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HNF Stories
10:33 am
Mon July 20, 2015

Tracking Down Homeless Who Need Meds

Credit http://www.miamihomeless.org/

It's just after 8 a.m., and Lazaro Trueba and Ivan Romero are driving around downtown with a pack of Clipper cigars and a stash of psychotropic pills in search of "Bigfoot."

At around 6-foot-6, he's hard to miss. But after two decades living on the streets and struggling with mental illness, Jesse, the man they've lovingly nicknamed after the mythical Sasquatch, has a penchant for both walking long distances and disappearing. And finding him is important, because like their other clients he needs his medication.

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Health News Florida
9:22 am
Mon July 20, 2015

FL Doc Accused Of Upskirt Videos

Dr. Akram Ismail of Lake County has been accused of taking upskirt videos of women at Publix after customers noticed his behavior and reported him to store officials, the Orlando Sentinel reports. It’s not the first time he has been in trouble with the law -- he was previously accused of hiring a hit man to kill a business partner, the Sentinel reports.

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Health News Florida
9:09 am
Mon July 20, 2015

AHCA To Insurers: Show Us Medicaid Rates

Liz Dudek
Credit Agency for Health Care Administration

The Florida Agency For Health Care Administration is demanding to see Medicaid contracts between hospitals and health insurers, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

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Health News Florida
8:56 am
Mon July 20, 2015

Humana Keeps HCA, Adds FL Hospital

Hospital Corporation of America hospitals will remain “in-network” under Humana health insurance plans, the Tampa Bay Times reports.The HCA chain is one of the largest nationally and has 22 hospitals and surgery centers in the Tampa Bay area.

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HNF Stories
8:39 am
Mon July 20, 2015

FDA Shuts Down South FL Blood Bank For Violations

Credit http://www.usbloodbank.org/

Federal authorities have suspended the license of a Miami-area blood bank for violations that include improperly notifying donors who may have been HIV-positive.

  It’s the first time the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has suspended a blood bank’s license in more than a decade.

According to a July 9 letter from the FDA, Doral, Florida-based U.S. Blood Bank did not make “reasonable attempts” to notify at least 120 donors between August 2013 and May who tested reactive for HIV and would need another test to verify the results.

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HNF Stories
8:47 am
Sat July 18, 2015

Surgeon With History of Complications Has a Felony Past

Dr. Constantine Toumbis attends a Citrus Memorial Health Foundation meeting in August 2014.
Credit Brian Blanco/AP for ProPublica

Officer Richard Walter looked out the window of his patrol car and saw two young men trading punches outside Sutter’s Saloon.

It was 2 a.m. on what should have been a forgettable night shift in 1989. Sutter’s was near the State University of New York at Buffalo – a student hangout, not a rough dive. Walter, now a seasoned detective, still can’t shake the bizarre and bloody memory of that night.

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HNF Stories
8:33 am
Thu July 16, 2015

Tobacco Co. Wins Appeal In Smoker Death

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Rejecting arguments that a jury improperly reached a "compromise" verdict, a federal appeals court Wednesday cleared Philip Morris USA from potential damages in the smoking-related death of a Florida man.

A Jacksonville jury last year found the tobacco company was 5 percent liable in the death of Robert Reider but did not award damages to Reider's widow, Barbara.

In an appeal, Barbara Reider's attorneys argued that the jury had reached an "unlawful compromise" in the decision.

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