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Health News Florida
9:41 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Fired VA Worker Files Whistle-Blower Case

An employee at the St. Petersburg Department of Veterans Affairs has filed a whistleblower complaint claiming he was fired in retaliation for pointing out problems at the busy claims office, according to The Tampa Tribune.

Health News Florida
9:34 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Hospital Loses Insurer, Spars With Another

Sarasota Memorial Hospital will no longer be an in-network hospital for patients signed up with the region’s largest Medicaid provider, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

After Dec. 31, Staywell Wellcare patients will not be covered at Sarasota Memorial, which currently treats 90 percent of the area’s Medicaid patients who need hospital care.

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Dudek: Nursing Home Push May Spur Suits

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek

There’s a shortage of nursing home beds in Florida, and companies are flooding the state with applications to build. With hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, courts may have to sort out the winners and losers.

It’s been 13 years since the Florida Legislature put a hold on building new nursing home beds because of rising costs in the state budget.

That moratorium expired this year, and 163 companies are competing to build more 3,100 new nursing home beds in Florida.

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HNF Stories
1:33 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Small Firms May Not Want to SHOP

Brooke and Andrew Lee, owners of Roundhouse Creative Studios in St. Petersburg, buy their own health insurance. They are interested in the costs for a small business plan that could include their one fulltime employee.
Mary Shedden/WUSF

Brooke and Andrew Lee can't imagine being without health insurance.

So for the past seven years, that's meant digging deep into the earnings of their video production agency in St. Petersburg. It’s expensive, but Brooke Lee says the alternative is worse.

“Even though costs are high, I’ve just always been somebody who has health care. And I would be really nervous… for the unknowns to happen, some major accident or health problem that would put us out of business and pretty much ruin everything we’ve worked so hard on if we didn’t have health insurance,” she said.

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HNF Stories
5:39 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Grand Jury Targets Medicare HMO

Florida's insurance officials are recommending a state takeover and liquidation of Florida Healthcare Plus, a Medicare Advantage plan accused of submitting $25.2 million in phony bills to Medicare and Florida Medicaid.

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HNF Stories
10:02 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Rally Urges Lawmakers to Expand Medicaid

Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa

As the next crop of Florida legislators met for the first time in Tallahassee on Tuesday, health care advocates and the new leader of the Senate Democratic caucus pushed for Medicaid expansion. 

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HNF Stories
10:02 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Ex-Exec Guilty of $67M in Medicare Fraud

 A former top executive at a South Florida health care company has pleaded guilty for his role in a nine-year, $67 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Christopher Gabel of Davie, former chief operating officer at Hollywood Pavilion LLC, pleaded guilty Tuesday to health care fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

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HNF Stories
10:01 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Autopsy: Air Bag Injuries Killed FL Woman

Credit AP

 An Orlando woman died from injuries to her neck and head caused by a car collision and an exploding air bag, according to an autopsy report released Tuesday.

Plastic and metal fragments were scattered throughout the driver's side of Hien Tran's 2001 Honda Accord, and detectives found fragments of loose metal still in the deflated air bag, according to the report. The air bag had multiple tears and was bloodied.

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HNF Stories
6:47 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Hep C Drugs Cost FL Medicaid $30M So Far

This handout photo provided by Gilead Sciences shows the Hepatitis-C medication Sovaldi.
Associated Press

Florida Medicaid has spent at least $30.6 million in the past year on costly drug treatments for Hepatitis C, according to records from the Agency for Health Care Administration. 

Most of the spending was for Sovaldi, an antiviral approved by the Food and Drug Administration in December 2013. It was fast-tracked after clinical trials showed it had a high cure rate for patients in advanced stages of liver disease who were infected with the most common strain of the Hepatitis C virus.

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HNF Stories
9:00 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Enrollment Push Moves To The Pulpit

Renard Murray, the regional administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spoke at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville.
Credit Abe Aboraya / WMFE

This weekend marked the beginning of open enrollment season, the time when uninsured Floridians can sign up for health insurance on HealthCare.gov. 

An estimated 1.5 million Floridians don’t have insurance. 

At Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville, Renard Murray, the regional administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services came from Atlanta to address the congregation of more than 300.

When asked who knows someone with high blood pressure, asthma or diabetes, almost everyone at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church raised a hand.

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Health News Florida
8:55 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Police Close Case on LSD-Tainted Meat

LSD powder
Credit Drug Enforcement Administration

The Tampa police investigation of a case involving meat tainted with LSD has come to an end, the Tampa Bay Times reports. In March, a family of four went to St. Joseph’s Hospital showing signs of poisoning, but when police tested the steak the family had for lunch, they found it had been tainted with the hallucinogenic drug, the Times reports.

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HNF Stories
4:03 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

HHS Secretary Visits FL, Defends ACA

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell speaks with a woman enrolling for health insurance Monday at the University of South Florida enrollment event in Tampa.
WUSF

The nation's top health official says the ongoing legal dispute over the Affordable Care Act won't stop people who want insurance from signing up.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced it will consider a challenge to the law, which could eliminate subsidies for individuals who purchased plans in Florida and dozens of other states via the online marketplace known as HealthCare.gov.

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HNF Stories
1:30 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

ACA Health Premiums Up 10-15% in FL

The average monthly premiums for Affordable Care Act "silver plans" increased by double digits in most Florida counties for 2015, according to an Associated Press analysis.

In their analysis, AP reporters Mike Schneider in Orlando and Kelli Kennedy in Miami  compared premiums after averaging them for all silver plans, without taking subsidies into account. 

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HNF Stories
9:06 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Federal Health Secretary in FL Today

Credit U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

From a tailgating party with Gator fans in Gainesville to a beer festival in Pensacola, Floridians had plenty of opportunities Saturday to get in-person help signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. And as the second year of enrollment kicks off, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell is making a swing through Florida today to help get the word out.  

Burwell will make a stop in Tampa Monday morning at the Navigation Lab at the University of South Florida; she will be in Miami this afternoon.

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HNF Stories
9:04 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Insurance Exchanges Launch With Few Glitches

A Los Angeles furniture store worker who had never had health insurance enrolled in a plan for $75 a month that will cover both him and his son.

An unemployed accountant in Charlotte, N.C., who tried and failed to sign up last year found coverage for $11.75 a month.

A self-employed house contractor from West Palm Beach, Fla., found a health plan that will cost him nothing.

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HNF Stories
8:50 am
Mon November 17, 2014

FL Orders Drop in Workers' Compensation Rates

Florida regulators are approving a drop in workers' compensation insurance rates.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty this past week announced that he was approving a rate drop for insurers that provide coverage for on-the-job injuries.

Rates will drop overall by 5.2 percent. The rate change will take effect on Jan. 1.

This marks the first time that workers' compensation insurance rates have dropped in the last four years.

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8:37 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Judge: Medical Pot Rules Too Vague

Lead in text: 
Florida’s plan to select nurseries to produce a strain of medical marijuana via lottery was struck down by an administrative law judge Friday, the News Service of Florida reports. The Department of Health’s lottery-system selection and overall framework fails to set up “adequate standards” for the Charlotte’s Web strain of marijuana, approved earlier this year by state legislators, according to the News Service.
An administrative law judge Friday struck down a rule proposed by health regulators as a framework for Florida's new medical-marijuana industry, finding multiple flaws in the controversial rule challenged by the state's largest nursery and other growers. Administrative Law Judge W.
Health News Florida
8:32 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Illness Brings Christian Science Beliefs to Light

The longtime leader of a Tampa Bay-area domestic violence shelter and a devout Christian Scientist is declining to discuss an illness that’s produced a significant growth on her face and has affected her ability to speak or chew, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

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Health News Florida
8:27 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Home Health Boss Sentenced for $7M in Fraud

The director of a Miami home health care agency will serve 57 months in prison for his role in a $7 million Medicare fraud scheme, the Miami Herald reports.  A federal judge sentenced Armando Buchillon of Hialeah for fraudulently billing Medicare for procedures such as physical therapy that never were performed at his company, Anna Nursing Services Corp., the Herald reports.

Health News Florida
8:50 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Ex-HMA Boss Acquitted in Cover-Up

Joshua Putter

The former leader of Charlotte Regional Medical Center in Punta Gorda was acquitted Thursday of charges he tried to boost referrals to the hospital by writing false information on letters and signing another doctor’s name to them, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

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Opinion
12:37 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Your Weekly Dose of Health Humor

Jonny Hawkins

Your Dose of Health Humor comes to you every Friday. 

HNF Stories
5:39 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Here to Help You Navigate ACA Year 2

Credit Megan Milanese

Open enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace starts on Nov. 15. The Health News Florida team is kicking off a series about the second year of open enrollment under the federal health law.

First, we take a look at HealthCare.gov, the website that people in Florida and 36 other states use to buy a health insurance plan.  This year, open enrollment runs for three months, until Feb. 15, 2015.

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Health News Florida
9:44 am
Thu November 13, 2014

‘Toxic Tush’ Doc Back in Jail

A South Florida woman who just completed a year in prison for practicing medicine without a license is back in jail on the same charges, the Miami Herald reports.

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Health News Florida
9:40 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Dispute Delays Charlotte's Web in FL

Credit Brennan Lindsay / Associated Press

The marijuana-based treatment "Charlotte's Web", recently approved for distribution by the Florida Legislature, remains locked in a legal dispute, the Orlando Sentinel reports. 

The state Department of Health established rules for making the product available, but several large growers protested those rules and have delayed the release of the product. According to the Sentinel, a ruling has been expected from Judge W. David Watkins of the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings for weeks and is due to be released no later than Tuesday.

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Health News Florida
9:31 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Hispanic Kids Less Likely to be Insured

A new study released Wednesday by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute's Center for Children and Families found that Hispanic children in Florida are more likely to lack health insurance than Hispanic children in other states, the Miami Herald reports.

HNF Stories
9:13 am
Thu November 13, 2014

43% of FL Medicaid Kids Miss Checkups

Credit U.S. Navy

Millions of low-income children - including almost half of those in Florida - are failing to get the free preventive exams and screenings guaranteed by Medicaid and the Obama administration is not doing enough to fix the problem, according to a federal watchdog report.

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HNF Stories
9:04 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Jury Awards $35M Damages to FL Smoker

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

A jury in Polk County has awarded $35 million in damages to a former Florida smoker who underwent two lung transplants.

The jury's decision Wednesday on behalf of 61-year-old Richard Boatright of Bartow against Philip Morris USA and the Liggett Group tobacco companies. The cigarette makers routinely appeal all such verdicts.

Attorney Sheldon Schlesinger says Boatright started smoking at age 12 and liked the cowboy used in Marlboro ads.

The case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 tossed out a $145 billion class action verdict.

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HNF Stories
8:57 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Insurance Lingo Boggles Consumers

The Kaiser Family Foundation has produced "Health Insurance Explained - the YouToons Have it Covered" to help consumers better understand industry terms.
Credit Kaiser Family Foundation

Signing up for health insurance is no fun, especially for those unfamiliar with the industry’s terms and concepts. And according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey, few people excel in that area.

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HNF Stories
8:42 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Re-Enrolling for Insurance? Expect Change

Phil Ammann, right, with his wife, Margaret.
Credit Lottie Watts / WUSF

    

Editor's note: Open enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace started on Saturday, Nov.  15. The Health News Florida team is kicking off a series about the second year of open enrollment under the federal health law. First, we take a look at HealthCare.gov, the website that people in Florida and 36 other states use to buy a health insurance plan.  This year, open enrollment runs for three months, until Feb. 15, 2015.

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HNF Stories
9:25 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Medicaid Expansion Still a No-Go in FL, TX

Texas and Florida, with their large uninsured populations, are not expected to offer coverage to many low-income patients. KHN’s Phil Galewitz and Mary Agnes Carey discuss:

MARY AGNES CAREY:  Welcome to Enrollment Encore: What you need to know before open enrollment in the health law’s marketplaces begins again on November 15th. I’m Mary Agnes Carey.

KHN Senior Correspondent Phil Galewitz joins me now to talk about Medicaid and the health law.

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