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9:27 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Medicare Fraud Snags Agency Owner

The co-owner of a Miami home health agency was sentenced to 70 months in prison for fraudulently providing therapy to Medicare recipients.

Between 2008 and 2014, Annarella Garcia’s Professional Medical Home Health received approximately $6.25 million in fraudulent Medicare claims, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Health News Florida
9:11 am
Thu August 28, 2014

WellCare, Amerigroup Name New FL COOs

Judi Peterson
Credit Amerigroup

Two major health care groups have named new Chief Operating Officers for their Florida operations.

 Liz Miller has been promoted to the position at WellCare of Florida, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reports. She has been the vice president of product operations at the Tampa-based company since 2012. WellCare is Florida’s large Medicaid HMO contractor.

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Health News Florida
9:10 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Jackson Health Faces Charity Care Complaint

Complaints alleging that the Jackson Health System is barring Miami-Dade residents from the hospital’s charity care program have been filed with the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Miami Herald reports.

8:23 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Sheriff: Vote Really About Recreational Pot

Lead in text: 
Floridians who want to smoke pot for fun are using the upcoming medical marijuana vote as subterfuge, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told the News Service of Florida. As one of the strongest opponents to Amendment 2, the sheriff and attorney says there are medical alternatives providing the THC needed to relieve pain and reduce nausea, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is helping lead an effort to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana. Both a lawman and an attorney, Gualtieri was appointed sheriff by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011. He was elected in his own right the following year.
HNF Stories
3:13 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Doctors Critical to Human Trafficking Fight

From left to right: WUSF's Carson Cooper, Dr. Maulik K. Trivedi, Connie Rose and Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Credit Mary Shedden

Florida Matters this week took a deeper look at human trafficking, including the role physicians in the state play in identifying those at risk, and treating those who have been victimized.

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Health News Florida
10:16 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Scientology Center Awarded $1.97M

Hernando County commissioners accepted a mediated settlement on Tuesday that awards $1.97 million to Narconon, the operator of a Scientology-affiliated drug treatment center in Spring Hill, the Tampa Bay Times reports. According to the Times, the settlement ends the legal battle that began when the commission initially turned down plans for the Suncoast Rehabilitation Center to expand in 2009.

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Health News Florida
10:14 am
Wed August 27, 2014

ACA Exemptions Include Bill-Sharing

While most Americans are required to obtain health insurance under Affordable Care Act’s mandate, others are exempt from purchasing insurance by joining medical bill-sharing groups, the Miami Herald reports.

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Health News Florida
10:12 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Welfare Worker, Psychologists Charged in Girl’s Death

A child welfare caseworker, two psychologists who failed to report suspected child abuse, and the cousin in charge of caring for a severely disabled preteen have been charged by a Broward County grand jury in her starvation death, the Miami Herald reports. The body of 12-year-old Tamiyah Audain was found emaciated and covered in bedsores in the home of her caregiver last year, as reported by the Herald in its series Innocents Lost. 

HNF Stories
10:06 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Sheldon Wins Democratic Primary for Florida AG

George Sheldon, a one-time top official in the Obama administration, easily defeated state Rep. Perry Thurston on Tuesday in the Democratic primary for attorney general.

Sheldon moves on to the November ballot, where he will challenge Republican incumbent Pam Bondi and Libertarian candidate Bill Wohlsifer. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Sheldon led Thurston 61 percent to 39 percent.

During a victory speech to supporters, Sheldon vowed during the next two months to draw a contrast between himself and Bondi on issues such as medical marijuana and same sex marriage.

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10:28 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Former DCF Secretary to Face Bondi

Lead in text: 
A former Department of Children and Families secretary will challenge incumbent Pam Bondi in the race for attorney general, the News Service of Florida reports. Democrat George Sheldon, who was DCF secretary under Gov. Charlie Crist and was an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defeated House Minority Leader Perry Thurston in Tuesday’s primary. As News Service reports, Bondi led the Republican challenge of the federal Affordable Care Act.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Democratic voters believe George Sheldon, a former Department of Children and Families secretary, is their best hope to take on Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi in November. Sheldon, a former state legislator who most recently held a post in the Obama administration, defeated state House Minority Leader Perry Thurston on Tuesday after a mostly cordial primary campaign.
Health News Florida
9:18 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Painkiller Deaths Fall in Medical Pot States

 Deaths from opioids like morphine, oxycodone, and heroin have decreased by almost 25 percent in the 23 states where medical marijuana has been legalized, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The analysis, published in JAMA Internal Medicine and using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, comes just months before Florida voters decide whether to legalize cannabis for medical use.

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Health News Florida
9:05 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Scientology Center Expansion Questioned

A Church of Scientology-affiliated rehabilitation center in Spring Hill has come under scrutiny for possibly treating patients at an unlicensed site, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

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8:44 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Juvenile Treatment Contractor Dropped

Lead in text: 
The operator of a 40-bed substance abuse treatment center in the Panhandle has lost its Department of Juvenile Justice contract, the News Service of Florida reports. Youth Services International, which also runs nine other centers in Florida, failed to correct programs involving safety and security for the teen boys in the program.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has canceled a contract with a controversial operator of a 40-bed residential facility in Santa Rosa County, with potentially far-reaching implications for the way the state rehabilitates juvenile offenders. Department officials said the Santa Rosa Substance Abuse Treatment Center hadn't corrected problems involving safety and security for the 14- to 18-year-old boys in its program.
HNF Stories
8:29 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Obamacare Sign-Ups to Rise 23%?

Jack McDermott, Director of Life & Health Products Review, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation
Credit FL Office of Insurance Regulation

The number of Floridians enrolled in individual health plans under the Affordable Care Act in June was 866,485, according to new state data compiled from insurers’ reports. The carriers expect enrollment to rise to 1.1 million next year, an increase of 23 percent.

The Office of Insurance Regulation is scheduled to present that and other information on the state's Affordable Care Act implementation Tuesday to the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board. Made up mostly of industry representatives, it was created to advise state agencies.

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HNF Stories
9:20 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Physicians United Members Face Deadline

Sunday is the final day seniors covered by a now-defunct Medicare Advantage plan can select a different policy.

The state’s Department of Financial Services took over operation of the Physician’s United Plan in early June, when it was more than $13 million in debt and unable to pay many creditors.

  

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Health News Florida
9:36 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Caseworker Arrested After Child Dies

The state caseworker who visited the home of 2-year-old Tariji Gordon the morning she died has been arrested, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Jonathan Irizarry, a child welfare worker for a non-profit contractor for the Florida Department of Children and Families, had recorded that the child was awake and doing fine, but then changed his story when questioned by authorities, the Sentinel reports.

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Health News Florida
9:28 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Vitamin Seller Blasts Fake Doc Claim

The owner of Barry's Vitamins & Herbs in Boca Raton had promised to stop using the words “doctor” and the title of “Dr.” in his store and on his website, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

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Health News Florida
9:08 am
Mon August 25, 2014

‘Healthbox’ Incubator Kickstarts Innovators

 Just seven of the 91 entrepreneurs that pitched a health care startup are getting a boost from Healthbox Tampa, a business incubator that provides seed money, office space and partnerships with health care providers, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

HNF Stories
8:29 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Obamacare Still 'Red Meat' for GOP

Tuesday's vote will determine party candidates in many Congressional primaries.

Beverly Hires, a former nurse running for Congress in Jupiter, one of the nation’s rare competitive House races, ticks off her problems with the federal health care law: higher premiums, cancelled policies and employers cutting full-time jobs.

“The Affordable Care Act is not making insurance more affordable,” the South Florida congressional candidate said, citing many of the same criticisms as her five GOP opponents in Tuesday’s primary, who are vying for the chance to oust first-term Democrat Rep. Patrick Murphy.

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HNF Stories
1:34 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Sexting Doctor Agrees to Suspension

Dr. Tuan Dean
Credit TriCounty Physicians LLC website

A Central Florida doctor who sent sexually explicit photos and videos to a patient has settled disciplinary charges against him by agreeing to a temporary suspension and a permanent restriction on his practice.

Dr.  Tuan Dean, a family practitioner in The Villages, agreed to see only male patients when he returns from suspension, according to documents posted at the Florida Department of Health website. The Florida Board of Medicine earlier this month asked DOH to seek the suspension and permanent restriction through a formal hearing if Dean had not signed the agreement.

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HNF Stories
7:30 am
Fri August 22, 2014

FDA Panel Says No; Docs Say Yes

Dr. Ronald Wheeler
YouTube.com

Sarasota urologist  Ronald Wheeler says he's going to continue doing a controversial prostate-cancer treatment, even though an FDA panel recently voted against it and even though the state could punish him for it.

Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the French device that Wheeler uses for high-intensity focused ultrasound, called HIFU, he has been treating his patients in Mexico.

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HNF Stories
1:10 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

A Third With Medicaid Chose Own Plan

Only about one-third of Florida’s Medicaid recipients transitioning into managed care statewide chose their own health insurance plans.

Enrollment for the general population started in May and ended in August. Consumers received a letter in the mail two months before enrollment and were given at least 30 days to choose an insurance plan. Those who did not choose a plan were automatically enrolled into a plan by state health officials.

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HNF Stories
7:47 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Coasters Thrill, Drill the Body

Guests at Busch Gardens Tampa can experience rides such as Cheetah Hunt without having to get on the ride.
Mary Shedden/WUSF

Just hearing the CLICK, CLICK, CLICK of a roller coaster car making its ascent makes some of us on the ground break into a cold, cold, cold sweat.

The heart's racing. And you're queasy. Very, very queasy.

But what exactly is happening inside those bodies brave enough to be strapped into massive body harnesses so they can head up, up, up… and very far down in three minutes or less?

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Health News Florida
3:28 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Bondi, Experts Tackle Human Trafficking

Panel (R-L) Attorney General Pam Bondi; Connie Rose; Dr. Maulik K. Trivedi; and WUSF's Carson Cooper.
Mary Shedden/WUSF

Human trafficking is the topic of a special Florida Matters show scheduled to air Tuesday, Aug. 26 at 6:30 p.m. and again Sunday, Aug. 31 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM.  A panel discussion on the issue was recorded Wednesday at Tampa's Centre Club, sponsored by the Florida Medical Clinic Foundation of Caring.

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Health News Florida
9:18 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Hospital to Plead for Residency Program

Credit Lakeland Regional Medical Center

Lakeland Regional Medical Center’s plan to launch a medical residency program could hinge on a meeting between hospital leadership and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator today, the Lakeland Ledger reports.

The meeting in Washington D.C. with Marilyn Tavenner will focus on a year-long dispute concerning residents who served at LRMC as part of other programs, the Ledger reports. 

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Health News Florida
8:52 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Prisons Chief Announces Reforms

After reports that a mentally ill inmate was killed by guards, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews announced several system-wide reforms, according to the Miami Herald.

Changes will include expanding crisis intervention training for guards, and developing separate re-entry centers for mentally ill inmates, the Herald reports.

Health News Florida
8:41 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Investments Boost Baptist Health Earnings

Earnings at Miami-based Baptist Health South Florida improved in its fiscal third quarter, the South Florida Business Journal reports.

The nonprofit hospital and health care provider reported $165.1 million in earnings for the quarter that ended June 30. That’s up $8.1 million for the same period a year ago, the Business Journal reports.

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Associated Press
8:05 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Scientists, Gov. Scott Talk Climate Change

Florida State University environmental science professor Jeffrey Chanton gives a presentation to Florida Gov. Rick Scott on climate change Tuesday in Tallahassee.
Credit AP

 

Five scientists who met with Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday are convinced that climate change is real, but what they are less sure about is whether the governor believes them.

The scientists had 30 minutes to make a presentation in Scott's office and the first seven minutes were taken up by small talk.

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Health News Florida
9:18 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Halifax Health Defends Settlement

Halifax Health officials defended its $120-million federal whistleblower settlement at a town hall Monday, saying the lawsuit stemmed from a single line in a contract, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Halifax Health CEO Jeff Feasel said the hospital was merely trying to maintain the community’s trauma unit and retain cancer doctors to treat indigent patients, but got caught up in confusing and “draconian” federal laws, the News-Journal reports.

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Health News Florida
9:02 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Pediatric Pay Lawsuit Nears End

Pediatricians challenging how the state pays for Medicaid services to children could see the nine-year-old case end in October, the Miami Herald reports.

The lawsuit, filed in 2005, claims that the Agency for Health Care Administration, Department of Health and Department of Children and Families violated federal law, and also hampered patient access by making low Medicaid payments to providers, the Herald reports.

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