Abe Aboraya

Health News Florida Reporter

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.

Contact Abe at 407-273-2300 x 183 on Twitter @AbeAboraya or by email

WMFE

Health care’s a growing industry. But not all health care jobs are created equal.

The board that oversees Florida’s universities on Monday will look at whether Florida graduates enough health care workers to meet demand and it could lead to new programs. 

The Florida Board of Governor's report looks at the statewide number of graduates in a field, compared to the projected number of new jobs.

A former SunTrust CEO from Winter Park has been appointed to a committee to investigate hospitals. Tom Kuntz is one of nine members on a panel investigating hospital finances.

WMFE

The president of Nemours Children’s Hospital in Medical City is retiring this year, the hospital announced today. Roger Oxendale led Nemours Children’s Hospital through construction of the $400 million hospital, which opened in late 2012.

Oxendale is retiring at the end of the year to spend more time with his new grandchild, he said in a statement. Dana Nicholson Bledsoe will take over as president in July.

See below for the full announcement:

For years, hospitals in Florida have been fighting over the right to add new trauma centers. That fight came to an end this week, as four new trauma centers opened in Florida: One in Miami, one in Sarasota, and two in Central Florida.

Health News Florida's Abe Aboraya spoke with WMFE's Morning Edition Host Nicole Creston:

NC: Historically, there’s been one trauma center in Central Florida, and that’s Orlando Regional Medical Center. But that’s not the case anymore.

Abe Aboraya / Health News Florida

Celisa Perez is at a small shop in the heart of Orlando’s Vietnamese community, not far from Little Vietnam, getting small needles pushed into her face.

Perez has had migraines for 30 years. She’s tried three different medicines to prevent them, but none of them worked. She tried a chiropractor and herbal supplements, but still the debilitating migraines came two to three times a week.

So now Perez is trying acupuncture.

“Deep…breath in…and out,” says Van Nguyen, an acupuncturist.

Florida officials debuted a new proposal Wednesday to try and keep a $2.2 billion dollar health fund for the uninsured. The fund is coming with significant changes. But first, a quick magic trick to demonstrate how LIP works.

Florida takes 40 cents, waves a magic federal wand over, and ta-da: We now have a shiny $1 bill.

But here’s the rub: the federal government doesn’t like that magic trick. They want LIP to be more transparent and less magical. They also want to make sure that hospital A doesn’t get a big ol’ chunk of that dollar just because it ponied up the 40 cents.

WMFE / WMFE

Florida officials have a new proposal to try and keep $2.2 billion federal health fund for the uninsured.

The Low Income Pool, or LIP, reimburses hospitals for the care of uninsured patients. The new plan would reimburse based on the quality of care.

The Agency for Health Care Administration took public comment for the first time Wednesday. Poinciana retiree Jim Guth said he supports the program, but doesn’t like the strings attached to federal dollars.

Agency for Health Care Administration

For the first time today, the public will get to weigh in on what to do with a federal program for the uninsured that’s created gridlock in Tallahassee. The Wednesday meeting in Orlando kicks off a series of statewide hearings on the Low Income Pool, or LIP.

LIP is a $2.2 billion dollar fund that mostly reimburses hospitals for treating Floridians without health insurance. It expires this summer, and federal officials aren’t inclined to extend it, saying instead the state should expand Medicaid to an additional 800,000 Floridians.

 Nearly thirty companies will be competing to build new nursing homes in Florida. And with 1,700 applications for only about 500 new beds, competition will be fierce.

Florida just ended a 15-year moratorium on new nursing home construction.

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek said this could be the last big round of new nursing homes because of a cap.

WMFE / WMFE

An Orlando nonprofit that 3-D prints free bionic arms for children is expanding. And to kick off the expansion, they gave a 3-D printed arm to autistic 12-year-old.

Wyatt Falardeau had his arm amputated shortly after birth. He’s a huge fan of Blue Man Group, and earlier this month, they gave him a new robotic arm.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Wyatt said.

WMFE

Orlando Health’s new CEO gave his first public remarks today at an event designating one of its hospitals as a Cancer Center of Excellence.

Strong started his new job six days ago.

“I’ll tell you that a few years ago, I lost my mom to blood cancer, multiple myeloma,” Strong said. “And this is the kind of center that I would have wanted my mom at.”

Strong also talked about the importance of new technology.

WMFE

Accidental deaths from drug use is up 26 percent in Orange and Osceola counties, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Heroin overtook cocaine as the deadliest street drug last year. Heroin was found in 89 deaths in Orange and Osceola counties last year, that’s compared to 19 heroin-related deaths in 2011.

Cocaine was a close second, with 88 deaths, and was often used in combination with other drugs. That’s an 89 percent increase from 2012.

Associated Press

 Florida Gov. Rick Scott stopped shy of saying he would veto an expansion to Medicaid. Speaking to reporters in Orlando Tuesday, Scott said the federal government can’t be trusted to pay for Medicaid.

But when pressed, he stopped short of saying he would veto an expansion to the health insurance program for the poor.

The Robinson family

A Florida House committee on Tuesday will look at 14 claim bills, including a multi-million dollar settlement for a fatal Lynx bus accident in Kissimmee. 

Matthew Robinson was crossing the street in Kissimmee when Lynx bus failed to yield at the crosswalk, hitting and killing the 10-year-old. Lynx admitted fault and settled for $3.2 million, but government settlements in Florida are capped at $200,000.

MyFloridaHouse.gov

The conservative political group Americans for Prosperity is taking aim at Senate President Andy Gardiner’s Medicaid expansion plans.

The mailers were sent to voters in the districts of 23 state senators, including Senate President Andy Gardiner. Officials from Americans for Prosperity said in a statement the current plan doesn’t do enough to curb health care costs.

The group, backed by the Koch brothers, wants to expand telemedicine, eliminate government oversight of health care and allow some health care workers to do more.

University of Central Florida

A decade from now, Florida is expected to be short 7,000 doctors.

The University of Central Florida is looking to tackle some of that.

Deborah German, dean of the UCF medical school, said Thursday the school wants to expand the training doctors get after getting a medical degree. The specialty residencies would focus on psychiatry, surgery and emergency medicine.

And it would offer the opportunity to get new federal money, German said.

The Florida Department of Health has confirmed a measles case in Central Florida.

The measles was diagnosed in an international traveler who stayed at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee March 16 and March 17.

The unidentified traveler spent most of the time in Osceola County, but also visited Miami-Dade, Orange and Sarasota Counties while contagious.

The patient did not attend any theme parks, state health officials said, although there was no initial count of how many people may have been exposed. The traveler was treated in Miami and flew home.

Daylina Miller / Health News Florida

Frank Gilbert has been nudged a few times while riding a bike to work. Nudged is his term for cars bumping into him.

If you close your eyes and think of someone riding a bike to work, you might picture spandex and neon helmets. Maybe jean shorts and a handlebar mustache.

But that is not what Gilbert looks like. Gilbert is middle-aged, wearing khaki pants, a blue blazer and tie while cruising in his recumbent bike four miles to downtown Orlando. The trip takes him through residential streets and across busy highways four days a week.

Abe Aboraya / Health News Florida

Dr. Phillips Charity announced today it will build a senior housing and health care complex in southwest Orlando.

Orlando Health will operate a physician practice on site, including primary care and specialists oncology, cardiology, orthopedics and geriatrics. Seniors can live in 180 assisted or independent living apartments. The entire complex is expected to cost $75 million dollars.

Ken Robinson, president of Dr. Phillips Charities, says the physician practice will open next year, and the senior housing will open in 2017.

The Affordable Care Act turns five this week, and Florida leads the nation in the number of consumers buying health insurance.

While about 1.6 million residents already have signed up for coverage, the number signing up for Obamacare could grow even more, thanks to income tax season.

Floridians who didn’t buy health insurance off the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace for this year are getting a second change buy coverage. Kind of.

Megan cracks open the book, and begins reading to her daughter.

“I am Jazz,” she starts. “For as long as I can remember, my favorite color has been pink.”

That’s Megan, an Orlando mother reading a children’s book to her 5-year-old. We’re not giving Megan’s last name or the name of her daughter to protect the child’s identity.

Her daughter wears a green shirt with shiny rhinestones, a grey skirt and ballerina slippers.

She’s a little shy around the reporter until Jazz, in the book, says she’s not like her friends. Jazz has a girl brain and a boy body.

 Florida Hospital’s parent company settled allegations Thursday that it over-billed the federal government. The alleged fraud took place from 2010 to 2013.

Adventist Health System agreed to pay $5.4 million to settle the allegations.

Adventist was accused of billing cancer treatments that weren’t directly supervised by an oncologist.

The overbilling happened at nine hospitals, mostly in Central Florida.

Wikimedia Commons

  Florida could become the first state to criminalize using the wrong bathroom. The Single Sex Bathroom Bill has cleared its second committee in the Florida House.

Morning Edition Host Nicole Creston spoke with Health Reporter Abe Aboraya.

CRESTON: I understand that the transgender community has rallied against this bill. The bill applies to everyone, but the transgender community are the ones caught in the middle since a man who has become a woman could be penalized for walking into a ladies room.

  More than two dozen nursing home companies are suing the state for being passed up on building new homes in Florida. It could take the rest of the year to sort out winners and losers.

The court process could take six to nine months to play out, which would delay when patients could access the new beds. Check here for a list of the companies suing and the initial documents.

Wikimedia Commons

A proposed bill would prevent transgender Floridians from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify gets a second committee vote today.

That means if a man who identifies as a woman uses the ladies room, she could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Proponents say the single-sex bathroom bill is needed to protect citizens from sex crimes. Equality Florida is planning protests of the bill.

Transgender man Eli Mender created a change.org petition with 4,600 signatures.

NPR

Monday is the deadline for companies to appeal decisions on who can build Florida's first new nursing homes in 14 years.

When Florida approved the building of 2,600 new nursing home beds last month, it denied one application for each it approved.

Today is the final day to appeal those decisions before a judge.

Florida approved 900 nursing homes beds less than what the state needed. That difference could be the basis for legal challenges doling out which companies are allowed to build Florida’s first new nursing home beds since 2001.

Florida Hospital

Florida tops the nation with the number of residents getting subsidies to buy health insurance through the federal health insurance exchange. One reason: state legislators decided against expanding Medicaid, the state’s health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

Florida Hospital CEO Lars Houmann was in Tallahassee as the legislative session kicked off, urging lawmakers to take billions of dollars and give health care to nearly a million more Floridians.

The Robinson family

Matthew Robinson loved to have eggs for dinner.  But they were out the evening of November 4, 2010. So the 10-year-old and his brother Mark walked out of their Kissimmee apartment and headed across the street to the Kangaroo convenience store. 

While crossing the street to come home, a city bus made a left turn into the crosswalk and hit the two boys. Mark Robinson grabbed a hold of the bike rack on the front, and crawled out from the bus.

But the back tire crushed Matthew Robinson to death.

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.

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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