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1:06 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

HCA Closing St. Petersburg Hospital

For the first time since 2012, a hospital in Florida is closing its doors. 

HCA West Florida announced Tuesday the 38-year-old Edward White Hospital in downtown St. Petersburg will close by the end of November. Services will shift to three nearby facilities owned by the company.

HCA officials said in a statement that there's a glut of hospital beds: more than 1,000 in southern Pinellas County alone.

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Health News Florida
9:12 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Pot Polls, Debates on the Rise

The number of polls and debates over Amendment 2 are growing as Florida’s vote on medical marijuana nears.

The debates playing out across the state are much like one in Brevard County Monday. There, Sheriff Wayne Ivey and the executive director of the Florida Cannabis Action Network Jodi James, argued opposing viewpoints during a forum on Amendment 2, according to Florida Today

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HNF Stories
8:34 am
Tue September 23, 2014

DCF Investigated Home Where 8 Died

This undated image provided by the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office shows Don Spirit, who's suspected of killing six of his grandchildren, his daughter and himself near Bell.
Credit AP Photo/Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office

Two weeks before a Florida man fatally shot his daughter and six grandchildren, someone called the state child abuse hotline, worried that adults were doing drugs in front of the kids, according to documents released Monday.

Authorities said 51-year-old Donald Spirit called 911 from his mobile home Thursday warning he might hurt himself or others. By the time a deputy arrived, Spirit had committed suicide. And he had killed 28-year-old Sarah Spirit and her six children, including an infant girl born in June.

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8:26 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Dispute Over Severely Disabled in Foster Care

Lead in text: 
Florida’s revised foster care law is creating confusion over the care of severely disabled young adults in the system, the News Service of Florida reports. Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice , hopes to draft a bill clarifying who should pay and provide services for disabled people, ages 18 to 22: either the Agency for Persons with Disabilities or the Department of Children and Families, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The sponsor of Florida's 2013 law extending foster care to age 21 is working on a legislative fix to resolve confusion about which state agency is responsible for severely disabled young adults in the program. Sen.
Health News Florida
9:39 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Patients Getting Stuck with ER Bill

 Patients heading to hospital emergency departments covered by their health insurance company are increasingly getting a rude and costly awakening, the Tampa Bay Times reports. ER physicians who work as contractors may not be in network, and patients are stuck with the bill.

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Health News Florida
9:37 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Major Pill Mill Owners Sentenced

Thirty-year prison sentences were given to the husband-and-wife owners of what officials say was Tampa’s largest pill mill operation, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

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Health News Florida
9:27 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Guard Suspected in Inmate Death Had Record

A veteran prison guard with his own rap sheet and a history of alleged abuses was among the 32 officers fired last week by the Florida Department of Corrections, the Miami Herald reports.

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HNF Stories
9:54 pm
Sun September 21, 2014

Correction: FL Enrollment Numbers

The number of Floridians who completed enrollment for 2014 in an insurance plan through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace was about 220,000 fewer than the federal government reported in May, according to an August report by the state Office of Insurance Regulation.

Health News Florida reported a different gap in an Aug. 26 article, Obamacare Sign-ups to Increase 23%?

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HNF Stories
6:44 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Millennials: Tech Not Only Health Solution

GuideWell is testing an interactive bathroom mirror, which provides regular health updates and reminders each morning.
Mary Shedden WUSF

There are a lot of stereotypes out there about the millennial generation: they’re disengaged and hyper-focused on technology.

But someday, these 80 million Americans born between 1980 and 1999, will be needing health care. And a lot of it.

That's why the second MediFuture conference this week in Tampa asked a panel of college students for some insight. While the five men and one woman say they may not be using the health care system much now, it's important medicine doesn't assume that technology is all they care about.

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HNF Stories
1:35 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

The Secret Price of Health Care: Transparency

 We’ve been hearing a lot about how health care prices are kept secret in this state.

As WLRN and the Miami Herald have been documenting all this week, the tangle of employers, insurance companies and providers makes shopping for health care and health insurance difficult enough — but underneath that web is a layer of secrecy that prevents consumers from seeing what actually gets paid for care. 

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Health News Florida
10:50 am
Thu September 18, 2014

$1.65M Settles Whistleblower Case

The owners of A Plus Home Health Care in Fort Lauderdale have agreed to pay $1.65 million to the federal government to settle a whistleblower lawsuit, according to the Miami Herald. The suit alleged that the owners gave kickbacks to physicians' spouses for referrals of Medicare patients, according to the Herald.

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Health News Florida
10:34 am
Thu September 18, 2014

USF Health Out at Villages Clinic

Officials of USF Health & The Villages Health primary care network at the 2013 groundbreaking of USF Health Specialty Care Center.
Credit Eric Younghans / USF Health

The University of South Florida has dropped its $4 million specialty clinic project in the Villages senior community after just six months, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

According to USF officials, the center just couldn't make enough income to succeed, primarily due to having enrolled 6,000 of the needed 20,000 residents in a Medicare managed care plan from United Healthcare.

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Health News Florida
10:30 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Legislature Needed for $5M DCF Settlement

The Florida Department of Children and Families has agreed to pay $5 million to settle claims regarding the 2011 death of 10-year-old Nubia Barahona and injuries suffered by her twin brother, Victor, at the hands of their adoptive parents, the Palm Beach Post reports.

HNF Stories
10:18 am
Thu September 18, 2014

CEO: GuideWell, Not FL Blue, Our Focus

GuideWell Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Pat Geraghty
Credit Kaiser Health News

Any doubt that Florida’s largest health insurer wants to expand its reach was quashed by its chief executive Wednesday, when he heralded the success of its new umbrella company and outlined ambitious plans for growth.

GuideWell, launched as a parent of Florida Blue, reaches more than 15 million people through its insurance, consumer, health care and government administration products, Chairman and CEO Pat Geraghty told participants at the Medifuture conference in Tampa.

Less than half are traditional Florida Blue policy holders.

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8:25 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Charlotte’s Web Legal Challenges Grow

Lead in text: 
Attempts to provide a specialized form of medical marijuana in Florida continue to be slowed by legal challenges, the News Service of Florida reports. The Florida Medical Cannabis Association joins two nurseries in saying the Department of Health has improperly created rules to allow the strain called “Charlotte’s Web” to be grown and provided to patients in the Sunshine State, according to the News Service.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
A trade association Wednesday challenged the Florida Department of Health's plan for carrying out a new medical-marijuana law, adding to two challenges filed earlier in the week. The Florida Medical Cannabis Association is asking an administrative law judge to reject a department rule unveiled this month.
HNF Stories
8:50 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Miami Science Museum Gets $5M for Health Programs

Baptist Health South Florida is giving $5 million for health and wellness programs at the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science being built in downtown Miami.

The Baptist Health People & Science Gallery will be located inside the museum. Some of the funding also will pay for transportation for Miami-Dade County public school students to visit the museum.

Museum President and CEO Gillian Thomas says the gallery will teach people "how to make better choices for a healthy life."

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HNF Stories
4:28 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Uninsured Rate Remains Unchanged in FL in 2013

The rate of Floridians without health insurance stayed the same in 2013 from the previous year, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Twenty percent of Floridians lacked health insurance last year, down slightly from a rate of 20.1 percent in 2012. But the change was within the margin of error, rendering it insignificant.

Nationwide, the rate was 14.5 percent.

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Health News Florida
11:37 am
Tue September 16, 2014

35K in FL Risk Losing Health Law Tax Credits

Thousands of consumers risk losing financial aid for health care premiums under President Barack Obama's law unless they clear up lingering questions about their incomes, administration officials said Monday.

The Health and Human Services Department said some people who got coverage have reported incomes that don't square with what the government has on record. At least 279,000 households with income discrepancies face a Sept. 30 deadline to submit documentation. If not, their premiums will be adjusted up or down in November.

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HNF Stories
8:39 am
Tue September 16, 2014

FL ‘Gray Belt’ a Glimpse at Nation’s Future

Credit Citrus County, Florida

A billboard at the county line advertises home health care services. Local churches try to create a feeling of belonging for elderly members who may be disconnected from family up north. Lawyers and accountants make house calls like doctors. Elderly residents get ferried to stores by a fleet of county minivans.

Welcome to Citrus County, Florida, where more than a third of residents are senior citizens, one of the highest rates in the nation.

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HNF Stories
7:24 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Damages Reduced in Kickbacks Case

A federal judge has reduced the punitive damages that a Tampa jury imposed in June on national drug-testing firm Millennium Laboratories after finding that it engaged in unfair competition by breaking anti-kickback laws in Florida and two other states.

But Millennium Labs, based in San Diego, still owes more than $11 million to its rival Ameritox Ltd. after the reduction. In Friday's 29-page order, U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew called Millennium's conduct "fairly reprehensible."

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HNF Stories
10:09 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Real Health Costs Concealed From Public

Almost a year and a half ago, Mt. Sinai Medical Center CEO Steve Sonenreich pledged on WLRN to make public what insurance companies pay his hospital.

But he learned that non-disclosure agreements between the hospital and the region’s insurance companies, kept him from legally sharing that information after all.

It turns out these secrecy agreements are standard practice between South Florida insurers and hospitals, WLRN and the Miami Herald reveal in its comprehensive series the “Power of Price.”

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Health News Florida
9:21 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Abuse Alleged at Home for Deaf, Autistic Kids

A Mount Dora residential treatment center for deaf and autistic children is being accused of abuse and neglect, NBC News reports.

Health News Florida
9:18 am
Mon September 15, 2014

No Discipline for Home Despite Chronic Complaints

A Lake County home where a severely disabled teen died after 10 days of fever and illness has been the source of 148 neglect or abuse claims since 2001, the Miami Herald reports (paywall alert).

Though Paige Elizabeth Lunsford died in July 2013, the state’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities only filed an administrative complaint against the Carlton Palms Educational Center on Friday, after learning that the Herald was preparing to publish a story.

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Health News Florida
9:02 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Suspicious Moves by Scott, HCA Resurface

Gov. Rick Scott’s leadership of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain is well known, as is the company’s record $1.7 billion fine for filing false claims for Medicare and other federal health programs.

But as he faces re-election, stories about a simultaneous investigation in the 1990s are emerging involving Scott and attempts to buy the then-publicly owned Tampa General Hospital, The Tampa Tribune reports.

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HNF Stories
8:55 am
Mon September 15, 2014

FL Fires 13 Prison Employees in Crackdown

Credit Florida Department of Corrections

 State prison officials did some major house cleaning this week, firing 13 people in the wake of widespread abuse allegations.

The Florida Department of Corrections on Friday announced the dismissal of three officers and two sergeants for punching and kicking a prisoner at Lancaster Correctional Institution.

Another officer was fired for a DUI arrest and another for driving with a suspended license.

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HNF Stories
10:00 am
Sat September 13, 2014

FL Health Centers Get $13.4M

Four dozen health centers around the state that provide a medical home for uninsured low-income Floridians and for those who are newly insured through the Affordable Care Act will get a share of $13.4 million in federal funds, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday afternoon.

Most of the grants fell into the range of $150,000 to $400,000, but a few of them were for more:

·         Community Health of South Florida in Miami, about $507,000.

·         Manatee County Rural Health Services in Palmetto, about $499,000.

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Health News Florida
8:37 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Pediatric Trauma Centers Being Passed Over

Florida has 13 pediatric trauma centers, but critically injured children are not always taken to these specialized facilities, the Tampa Bay Times reports.   Though the state says pediatric trauma centers are best equipped for these injuries, well-meaning paramedics often are taking patients to trauma centers that are are closer, but are designed for adults, the Times reports.  For example, the Times investigation found more

HNF Stories
1:00 am
Fri September 12, 2014

‘Trailblazing’ Health Journalist Honored

Health News Florida Editor Carol Gentry
Lottie Watts

The Florida Nurses Association is recognizing Health News Florida founder and Editor Carol Gentry for her significant and ongoing role in reporting on the state’s most important health issues.

The 2014 Communications/Media Award is being awarded to Gentry, who for four decades has been reporting on health policy and business, and has been holding industry and government officials accountable.

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Health News Florida
9:24 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Another Hospital Pondering Trauma Status

Sarasota Memorial Hospital is considering becoming a Level 2 trauma center, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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