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Health News Florida
9:28 am
Thu December 18, 2014

AHCA Boss Plans for Scott's Second Term

AHCA Secretary Liz Dudek

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth "Liz" Dudek has an ambitious "to-do" list for Governor Rick Scott's upcoming second term, according to Christine Jordan Sexton of SaintPetersblog

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Health News Florida
9:15 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Florida Silent on CHIP Funding

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

  Gov. Rick Scott hasn’t responded to a bipartisan congressional inquiry regarding the future of the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, according to the Miami Herald.

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HNF Stories
9:08 am
Thu December 18, 2014

FL Senate Could Reconsider Expansion

Senate President Andy Gardiner
Credit MyFloridaHouse.gov

  Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner is leaving open the possibility that his chamber will consider an expansion of health care coverage for low-income Floridians.

“Intriguing" was the word Gardiner used on Wednesday for a plan from business and hospital leaders that would accept billions of dollars under the federal Affordable Care Act and provide coverage through private insurers. The plan, called "A Healthy Florida Works," was introduced last week.

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HNF Stories
8:49 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Meningitis Arrests Include 2 Floridians

Fourteen people have been indicted over their links to a deadly meningitis outbreak – including two Central Floridians.

New England Compounding Pharmacy Inc. was blamed for the 2012 outbreak that sickened 678 people and killed 64, including 25 infections and three deaths in Florida. The charges include racketeering, conspiracy and second degree murder.

Winter Park residents and pharmacy owners Carla and Doug Conigliaro are among the 14 former owners or employees of a Massachusetts pharmacy charged Wednesday by federal prosecutors in Boston.

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Court Diversion Redirects Vets

Judge Jerry Brewer is the head of Veterans Court in Orange and Osceola Counties. He poses here with Stephani Quiroz, Veterans Court case manager.
Abe Aboraya Health News Florida

George Dawson has the rough hands of a carpenter and a grizzly grey beard. He’s on his hands and knees pulling weeds out of a red mulch flower bed at the Orlando VA Medical Center’s administration building.

“This community service ain’t too bad,” Dawson said. “I joked when I said Becky had me under the lash. It’s not hard. You just gotta do what you’re responsible for.”

Dawson is clean and sober, and a small business owner: He repairs and resells broken pallets. Thirteen months ago, it was a different story.

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HNF Stories
5:17 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Enrollment Targets Uninsured Hispanics

CuidadodeSalud.gov

Luis Alejandro Larrorte has lived the past two decades in the United States -- all of it without health insurance.

But the 56-year-old who sells cable satellite plans as a contractor was diagnosed with eye cancer. And the Pembroke Pines resident was eager to sign up on the federal healthcare marketplace.

But the Columbian native - who now is a U.S. citizen - says a lot of the insurance and medical terms involved didn't translate well into the Spanish-language website.

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HNF Stories
9:04 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Nearly 2.5M In FL, 36 Other States Pick Plans on HealthCare.gov

More than 1 million people selected a health plan during the fourth week of the health law’s open enrollment and nearly 2.5 million have done so since it began Nov. 15, federal officials said Tuesday.

“And this was before an extremely busy weekend,” said Andy Slavitt, principal deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the federal online marketplace used by 37 states.

Tuesday’s report did not include enrollment for the final three days before the Dec. 15 deadline for people to enroll if they want coverage to begin Jan. 1.

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HNF Stories
8:56 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Doctors Debate Stability of Mom Who Drove Into Ocean

Two doctors offered conflicting testimony today on whether a South Carolina mother who drove her three children into the ocean off Daytona Beach needs to be forcibly confined for mental-health treatment.

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HNF Stories
8:53 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Medical Marijuana Backers Court Lawmakers, Investors

The medical marijuana amendment failed at the polls during last month's election. But that doesn't mean marijuana campaigners have given up.

The Florida for Care Winter Conference takes place Wednesday in Miami at the downtown Intercontinental Hotel. Organizer Ben Pollara said lawmakers will be among the attendees at the all-day conference, which has a two-track agenda for legalizing marijuana as medicine. 

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HNF Stories
8:39 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Elders Trapped By Guardianship Law

Marie Winkelman, 89, had her rights removed a year ago at the request of her stepson-in-law, and is bewildered by the idea that she no longer has access to her own finances.
Thomas Bender Sarasota Herald-Tribune

 Florida's elder guardianship program is meant to help vulnerable elders.

But Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporter Barbara Peters Smith recently published a series that shows the rapidly expanding system run in Florida’s probate court system ignores the rights of some. She spoke with Health News Florida Editor Mary Shedden about the year-long investigation.

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University Beat
5:34 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Getting People Moving with A High-Tech Simulator

Dr. Stephanie Carey (right) of the USF Dept. of Mechanical Engineering monitors veteran Gordon "Skip" Beadle as he tries out the CAREN (Computer-Assisted Rehabilitation Environment) system.
Credit Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Gordon "Skip" Beadle has a prosthetic right leg, the tenth such device he’s depended on since the retired U.S. Marine was wounded during the Vietnam War 50 years ago.

"It’s a symbiotic leg. It has a microprocessor in the knee and also the ankle," he said. "This leg in particular gives me a huge amount of balance. Before this leg, I pretty much had to use a cane cause I’d lose my balance. (Now) I can walk without a cane; I can walk uphill, downhill."

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HNF Stories
8:56 am
Tue December 16, 2014

WellCare Appoints New CEO

Ken Burdick
Credit WellCare Health Plans

WellCare Health Plans, Inc., Florida’s largest Medicaid HMO provider, announced Monday that Kenneth Burdick will be appointed as CEO, according to a statement released by the Tampa-based company. 

Burdick, who previously served as the company’s president and chief operating officer, will be replacing interim CEO David J. Gallitano Jan. 1.

According to the statement, Burdick has previously held executive positions with companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Coventry Health Care, and UnitedHealth Group.

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HNF Stories
8:45 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Mom Who Drove Kids Into Ocean in Court

A South Carolina mother who drove her three children into the ocean off Daytona Beach will learn her fate during a court hearing on her mental health.

During Tuesday's hearing in Daytona Beach, psychologists who treated 33-year-old Ebony Wilkerson will offer their opinion on whether she needs to be forcibly hospitalized for treatment.

If Circuit Judge Leah Case decides no hospitalization is required, Wilkerson could be released under the court's supervision.

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HNF Stories
8:40 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Armstrong Again Named DOH Secretary

Credit University of South Florida

Governor Rick Scott on Monday tapped Dr. John Armstrong again as Florida’s Surgeon General and Secretary of the Florida Department of Health.

Armstrong has been in the post since 2012. His predecessor, Dr. Frank Farmer, stepped down after about a year on the job, citing taking care of his wife who has breast cancer.

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HNF Stories
8:33 am
Tue December 16, 2014

New Surgeon General Has Florida Roots

Vivek Murthy
Credit Associated Press

The Senate on Monday approved President Barack Obama's nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy to serve as U.S. surgeon general, despite opposition from Republicans and some Democrats over his support for gun control and past statements that gun violence is a public health issue.

The son of immigrants from India, Murthy told senators he was inspired to become a doctor while helping out on weekends at his father's family medicine clinic in Miami.

He moved to Florida at the age of 3, and graduated from Miami's Palmetto Senior High in 1994.

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8:21 am
Tue December 16, 2014

DOH to Draft Charlotte’s Web Rules Again

It’s back to the drawing board for the Florida Department of Health and its attempt to create rules for its non-euphoric medical-marijuana law, the News Service of Florida reports. Last month, an administrative law struck down the proposed rules for the drug known as Charlotte’s Web. So, DOH will hold a Dec. 30 workshop in Orlando to restart the rules drafting process, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The state Department of Health will not appeal an administrative law judge's decision that struck down a proposed framework for regulating Florida's new medical-marijuana industry. Nathan Dunn, a department spokesman, said in an email Monday that the agency will hold a workshop Dec. 30 in Orlando as it again tries to develop a rule.
Health News Florida
9:00 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Feds Poised to Investigate Prison Deaths

Six months after the Miami Herald started investigating suspicious deaths of inmates -- and as the Florida prison system continues its path to become the deadliest year on record -- the U.S. Department of Justice is poised to start an investigation of its own into the third-largest prison system in the country.

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Health News Florida
8:53 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Commissioner, Mom Accused of Fraud

St. John's County Commissioner Bill McClure
Credit St. John's County

Former employees of a medical clinic accuse the St. Johns County Commissioner and his mother of improperly billing for nearly 40 Medicaid patients, illegally storing controlled substances and forging prescriptions, the Florida Times-Union reports. 

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Health News Florida
8:50 am
Mon December 15, 2014

DCF Holding Payment for Torture Case

Nubia Barahona

The Florida Department of Children and Families is challenging a nearly two-year-old agreement to pay $5 million for the brutal death of a 10-year-old South Florida girl and torture of her twin brother, the Miami Herald reports.

The new adoptive family of Victor Barahona is still trying to claim money approved in 2013, meant to help them deal with the long-term psychological damage to the boy, the Herald reports.

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HNF Stories
9:37 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Holiday Office Party Sickens 55

Though not always pathogenic, Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, is sometimes the cause of skin infections, sinusitis and food poisoning.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A holiday party that sickened 55 office workers in Maitland this week has been reported to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The luncheon put 20 people in the hospital, including a pregnant woman.

If the Maitland outbreak happened in 2013, it would have ranked No. 8 on Food Safety News’ list of top 10 largest outbreaks.

Here’s how foodborne illness lawyer and Food Safety News publisher Bill Marler put it:

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Opinion
8:02 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Your Weekly Dose of Health Humor

Jonny Hawkins

The weekly dose of health humor is a weekly feature of Health News Florida.

Health News Florida
8:40 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Hospitals Pitching for Hospice Deals

Credit Tampa General Hospital

More than a dozen groups are vying to win new hospice program contracts in Hillsborough and Pasco Counties, where state officials say they are lacking in end-of-life services, the Tampa Bay Times reports. 

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HNF Stories
8:18 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Florida Is No. 32 in Health Rankings

Credit www.healthcare.gov

A new report places Florida as the 32nd healthiest state in the nation.

The report released Wednesday by UnitedHealth Foundation says that in the past year the percentage of Floridians who smoke decreased slightly, from 17.7 percent to 16.8 percent.

The percentage of adults who binge drink also dropped, from 16.5 percent to 15.5 percent.

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HNF Stories
7:02 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Planned Parenthood Expanding Reach

Jenna Tosh of Planned Parenthood of Central Florida

Some sexual assault victims in Central Florida will now be able to get low-cost treatment closer to home.

That’s because of an agreement between the local Planned Parenthood and Victim Service Center announced this week. Planned Parenthood’s new Kissimmee clinic is now part of a referral agreement with Victim Service Center, which runs the local 24-hour rape crisis hotline.

Victims of rape and sexual assault will get access to free initial and follow-up screenings for STDs like HIV, as well as reduced-cost emergency contraception.

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HNF Stories
6:49 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Hospitals Helping with Insurance Signup

Taber Andrew Bain, via Flickr Creative Commons

Some Central Florida hospitals are ramping up plans to get patients signed up for insurance - when they come to the emergency room.

Both Florida Hospital in Orlando and Orlando Health are expanding a program that puts federal health care marketplace navigators in the hospital during the open enrollment season under way.

Trained counselors are already in place at five Orlando Health locations, said Tom Yoesle, the chief operating officer of revenue management for Orlando Health.

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HNF Stories
6:31 am
Thu December 11, 2014

State Takes Over Medicare HMO

Circuit Court Judge George S. Reynolds III
Credit Credit Florida's Second Judicial Circuit

Florida Healthcare Plus, a Medicare HMO with 10,000 members, was declared insolvent Wednesday and turned over to state authorities.

In such cases, state and federal officials help patients move into other health plans or to traditional Medicare. More information is expected on that today or Friday.

The state Division of Financial Services took over the Coral Gables-based plan immediately after the order was issued Wednesday by Circuit Court Judge George S. Reynolds in Tallahassee. DFS is expected to sell off the company’s assets Jan. 1.

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HNF Stories
12:29 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Young Adults Remain Enrollment Challenge

Credit Megan Milanese

Christian Ward lounges on a couch in the University of South Florida student center in Tampa. He props crutches against the armrest and stretches out his leg, which is covered in a cast up to his thigh.

Like a lot of college students, Ward’s parents handle his health insurance. He'll tell you that having it definitely came in handy during his moment of need.

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HNF Stories
3:53 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Deadline for Jan. 1 Coverage Nears

Monday’s an important deadline for Floridians shopping for insurance on HealthCare.gov.

Nearly a million residents signed up on this federally run marketplace last year. Now those wanting to re-enroll -- or sign up for the first time for coverage -- must select a plan by Monday if they want to be covered starting at the beginning of the New Year.

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Health News Florida
9:24 am
Wed December 10, 2014

New FL Prison Boss: Julie Jones

Gov. Rick Scott has appointed Julie Jones to lead Florida’s prison system, the Miami Herald reports. It will be the first time a woman will lead the Department of Corrections. Jones comes to the DOC after leading the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and will replace Mike Crews, who announced his resignation last month. The prison system has been plagued by inmate deaths and abuse, the Herald reports.

9:16 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Concealed Guns on FL College Campuses?

A Florida lawmaker has filed a bill that would allow concealed weapons on college campuses, the News Service of Florida reports. State Rep. Gary Steube, R-Sarasota said he had already planned to sponsor the bill before last month’s shooting incident at Florida State University. According to the News Service, an attempt to allow concealed weapons on campus was also filed in 2011, but the measure was defeated.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
A Florida lawmaker has filed a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons on the campuses of state colleges and universities. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, said he already planned to sponsor the measure (HB 4005) before a shooting incident last month at Florida State University --- but that the attack, which left three people injured and the gunman dead, helps to make his point.

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