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Health News Florida
8:46 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Get Waiver, Avoid ACA: Former Health Czar

Alan Levine
Credit hma.com

Alan Levine, a favorite health policy wonk among Republicans, is offering some advice to the Florida Legislature: exercise a waiver, and get around much of the Affordable Care Act, Florida Politics reports. 

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Health News Florida
8:38 am
Mon March 2, 2015

FL Docs: HealthCare.gov Patients Misinformed

Credit healthcare.gov

  Doctors treating patients with Obamacare plans are encountering a lot of consumer misinformation, increased paperwork, heavier patients loads and the worry of unreliable reimbursements and payments, the Miami Herald reports.

South Florida doctors say they’ve had to turn away patients with HealthCare.gov plans to avoid these problems or have lost patients because of their misunderstanding of co-pays and deductibles, the Herald reports.

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Health News Florida
8:36 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Pill Mill Sentences Reduced for Testimony

  The owners of the Tampa Bay Wellness Centre and affiliated VIP Pharmacy are testifying against each other and other pill mill doctors to get their own sentences reduced, The Tampa Tribune reports.

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Health News Florida
8:34 am
Mon March 2, 2015

DOH Staff Cut 5 Percent in Governor’s Budget

Credit Florida Governor's Office

  Roughly 5 percent of Department of Health positions would be eliminated under Gov. Rick Scott’s latest budget proposal, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

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HNF Stories
6:59 am
Mon March 2, 2015

VA Secretary Addresses Reform, Controversy

Abe Aboraya Health News Florida

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald visited Orlando Friday to see the state's newest VA hospital.

While the former Proctor and Gamble executive has made reforming VA bureaucracy his top goal, that message has been drowned out by controversy surrounding comments that he had served in special forces – even though he didn’t.

McDonald spoke with reporters including Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya, who explained the visit with WMFE 90.7’s Crystal Chavez.

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HNF Stories
5:47 am
Mon March 2, 2015

1M in FL Could Be Affected by Supreme Court Case

Credit U.S. Supreme Court

A U.S. Supreme Court decision expected this summer could quickly change how Floridians with insurance through HealthCare.gov pay for coverage.

Arguments being held in the case of King v. Burwell this week will decide whether low- and moderate-income Floridians and residents in 36 other states can get tax credits for plans they buy through the federal government.

The impact of the ruling could be seen within 30 to 60 days of a decision, said Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia.

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Opinion
8:09 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Your Weekly Dose of Health Humor

Jonny Hawkins

Your dose of health humor comes to you every Friday.

Health News Florida
8:53 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Brother of Accused Money Launderer Sentenced

The younger brother of a man accused of laundering $238 million in Medicare dollars from Florida to Cuba's banking system was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in federal prison on Wednesday, the Miami Herald reports.

Eduardo Perez de Morales was barely an adult when his brother recruited him into the scheme, but he admitted he continued with the partnership even after realizing it was illegal, the Herald reports. 

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HNF Stories
8:44 am
Thu February 26, 2015

$100M Settlement in FL Tobacco Lawsuits

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A $100 million settlement has been reached between three major tobacco companies and hundreds of people who sued them for smoking-related deaths and illnesses in Florida federal court.

The tentative agreement announced Wednesday involves R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Philip Morris USA Inc. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. The deal resolves about 400 cases pending before a federal judge in Jacksonville, but does not affect thousands of other lawsuits pending in Florida state courts.

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Health News Florida
8:39 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Bill Would Boost Elder Oversight

Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice
Credit The Florida Senate

Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, has filed a bill to reform the system aimed at regulating court-appointed guardians of the elderly, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The bill, SB 1226, will create the Office of Public and Professional Guardians to certify and supervise the court-appointed guardians.

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Health News Florida
8:27 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Moffitt Sues Physician Over Invention

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa is suing its own doctor, saying he is claiming ownership of surgical equipment the hospital helped create, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

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HNF Stories
12:01 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Billions at Stake as State, Feds Negotiate Medicaid

Wikimedia Commons

When the 2015 legislative session begins next week, many of the state’s decisions on health care for the poor are on hold as state and federal Medicaid officials negotiate over funding, behind closed doors. Billions of dollars are at stake.

When it comes to health-care funding, Florida’s in a funny position. The state has twice turned down billions of dollars from federal Medicaid that would have covered care for about a million poor Floridians.

This year may be no different.

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HNF Stories
12:01 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Rep. Hudson on Medicaid Expansion: No!

Rep. Matt Hudson

Florida business groups, insurers, and hospitals are pushing state officials to accept billions of dollars in federal funds to cover the low-income uninsured.

But when the 2015 legislative session opens next Tuesday, this impressive coalition will run into Rep. Matt Hudson, a Naples Republican who chairs the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.

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HNF Stories
9:01 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Hospital Districts Could Face Taxing Votes

 A House Republican filed a proposal Tuesday that would require once-a-decade votes about whether local hospital districts should be able to continue taxing residents.

The proposal (HB 953), filed by Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach, would require reauthorization of hospital-district taxing authority to be placed on general-election ballots every 10 years. If voters turn down reauthorization, taxing authority would be terminated. In such cases, hospital districts could continue to operate without taxing authority or the districts would be dissolved.

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HNF Stories
8:59 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Attorney: Settlement Reached In Parasailing Crash Lawsuit

Credit Associated Press

 Two Indiana teenagers who were seriously injured in a Florida Panhandle parasailing crash have settled their lawsuits, according to their lawyers.

Attorneys for Sidney Good and Alexis Fairchild – both 18 now – confirmed a settlement was reached Monday after more than a year of negotiations. Details of the settlement, including the amount, were confidential.

Wes Pittman, an attorney for Good, said during a news conference today outside a Panama City courthouse that the money is going to help the girls for the rest of their lives in a very meaningful way.

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Health News Florida
8:53 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Quit Playing Doc, Health Department Tells Dozens

  Over a two-month period, the Florida Department of Health ordered 59 individuals or businesses to stop playing doctor, the Palm Beach Post reports. Most of those practicing medicine without a license were located in South Florida, the Post reports.

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HNF Stories
10:00 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Critics Warn Cuts Will Harm Services to Toddlers

  Blaming a budget shortfall, the Florida Department of Health has laid off most of the administrators at the Early Steps program, which serves babies and toddlers with developmental disabilities and delays.

The department said the cuts won't affect services to families. But critics of the move say it will leave the program --- which gets the majority of its funding from the federal government --- unable to meet requirements that keep the money flowing.

The workers received letters of termination Thursday, advising that their last day would be March 2.

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HNF Stories
4:07 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

In a Twist, Fight For Medical Pot Goes to Florida Statehouse

In this Oct. 8, 2014 photo, Ben Pollara, who leads United for Care, the group that lobbied for a comprehensive medical marijuana law in last year's Florida ballot, is seen at a rally in Boca Raton, Fla.
Credit AP

Republicans lawmakers in Florida who once opposed medical pot are now embracing it, motivated by the strong show of support from voters and worried that another constitutional amendment during next year's presidential race could drive opponents to the polls.

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HNF Stories
9:25 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Orlando Vying for High-Tech Medical Company's HQ

SMRxT Inc. included this diagram of its smart pill bottle product in its patent application.
Credit U.S. Patent Office

Orlando on Monday approved its part of two tax packages to bring 100 jobs to Orlando.

And one seeks to solve an age-old problem: Patients not taking their pills.

  – pronounced Smart X Inc. – could move its headquarters from New York to Orlando. The company is testing a smart pill bottle to tell doctors in real-time if patients have stopped taking a prescription.

SMRxT is pilot testing with Florida Hospital. In total, it’s seeking a $330,000 incentive package from the state to create 55 high-paying jobs.

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HNF Stories
9:21 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Survey: Uninsured Rate Hit New Low in 2014

Credit HealthCare.gov

The share of Americans without health insurance dropped to its lowest level in seven years in 2014 as President Barack Obama's overhaul took full effect, according to an extensive survey released Tuesday.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that the trend appears likely to continue this year, since 55 percent of those who remained uninsured told the pollster they plan to get coverage rather than face escalating tax penalties.

In Florida, the rate dropped 3.4 points.

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HNF Stories
9:18 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Man Claims Pot Needed for Eating Disorder

A South Florida man is using a medical necessity defense in a trial on charges of illegally growing dozens of marijuana plants on his property.

Opening statements are expected Tuesday in the case of 50-year-old Jesse Teplicki of Hollywood. Teplicki says the 46 plants seized by authorities two years ago were not for distribution but for his own use, to fight symptoms related to the eating disorder anorexia.

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HNF Stories
9:17 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Protests Continue Over Boy's Circumcision

In January, protesters in Boynton Beach spoke out in the case involving the 4-year-old boy.
Credit Matt Sedensky/AP

Last-ditch protests and legal maneuvers are underway as an estranged Florida couple's protracted fight over whether to circumcise their son appears close to an end.

Dennis Nebus of Boca Raton, the father of the 4-year-old boy, said in a court filing he was attempting to schedule the surgery for Tuesday. That prompted a round of filings by the mother, Heather Hironimus of Boynton Beach, and promises of demonstrations by anti-circumcision activists who have made the case a rallying cry against a practice they consider barbaric.

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HNF Stories
9:16 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Medical Tourism Could Get Backing

Credit Visit Florida

A House Republican on Monday filed a proposal that would lead to marketing Florida as a "medical tourism" destination --- and put state money behind it.

The proposal (HB 945), filed by Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach, would require Enterprise Florida to market the state as a "destination for quality health care services."

That would include efforts such as promoting the qualifications and expertise of health-care providers and promoting medical-related conferences or business opportunities in Florida.

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Health News Florida
9:11 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Scrutinized Company Nursing Home Sale Questioned

The Florida Bulldog says questions are being raised about the sale of a non-profit Miami-Dade nursing home undergoing a federal whistleblower investigation.

While the publication claims that last year’s sale of the 104-bed Plaza Health Network facility and adjoining properties netted $3 million for its owner and board chairman, the company disputes the 'misleading' allegations.

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HNF Stories
8:50 am
Tue February 24, 2015

King v. Burwell May Be GOP Wake-Up Call

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

Republican efforts to replace the federal health law have been given new urgency by the Supreme Court.

As soon as this spring, the court could invalidate health insurance subsidies available to nearly a million Floridians and many other Americans if it rules for the challengers in a case called King v. Burwell.

Those pushing the case argue that language in the law limits help to pay for insurance to residents of states that have established their own health insurance exchanges. 

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HNF Stories
9:10 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Medical Marijuana Law Path Hazy

Florida could join 23 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing medical marijuana. Senate President Andy Gardiner says that wouldn’t happen, though, until a committee of growers, doctors, and cannabis experts hashes out criteria for who and how to grow the marijuana.

“It’s been tied up in rulemaking in the department, so there might be a challenge of how much you do this year when you haven’t even implemented what we did last May,” Gardiner said in a phone interview.

Republican Senator Jeff Brandes has proposed a bill to expand last year’s Charlotte’s Web law.

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Health News Florida
9:06 am
Mon February 23, 2015

OD Deaths Just Latest Trouble for Pain Doc

Credit Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

A federal indictment unsealed in January blames Tampa physician Dr. Edward Neil Feldman for the overdose death of three patients. 

But as the Tampa Bay Times reports, the charges involving powdered oxycodone are just part of a long and troubled history with the law, from allegations of soliciting prostitutes to pleading guilty in a federal case on kickbacks for MRIs.

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HNF Stories
8:25 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Prison Health Contracts to be Rebid

Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones
Credit The Florida Channel

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones announced Friday she intends to rebid contracts worth about $1.4 billion with private companies to provide health-care services to the state's 100,000 inmates.

Jones's announcement came amid increased scrutiny of Florida's prison system, the third-largest in the country, after reports of guards abusing inmates, a rising number of unexplained inmate deaths and lawsuits from investigators who claim they were retaliated against after exposing wrongdoing.

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Health News Florida
8:14 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Complaints Led to ER Doc Firing: Lawsuit

  A doctor is suing HCA Inc. claiming she was fired from a physician staffing company after complaining about low staffing levels in the emergency room at Brandon Regional Hospital, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

 

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HNF Stories
9:38 pm
Sat February 21, 2015

Bad Tax Info Sent on HealthCare.gov Plans

Credit Internal Revenue Service

In a new setback for the health care law and the people it's supposed to help, the government said Friday it made a tax-reporting error that's fouling up the filings of nearly a million Americans, including Floridians.

After a successful sign-up season, the latest goof could signal new problems with the complex links between President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and the nation's income tax system.

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