Carol Gentry

Health News Florida Special Correspondent

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four  decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.

After serving two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, Gentry worked for a number of newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), the Tampa Tribune and Orlando Sentinel.  She was a Kaiser Foundation Media Fellow in 1994-95 and earned an MPA at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1996.  She directed a journalism fellowship program at CDC for four years.

Gentry created Health News Florida, an independent non-profit health journalism publication, in 2006, and served as editor until September, 2014. She and Health News Florida joined WUSF  in 2012. 

Contact Ms. Gentry at at 727-410-3266 or by e-mail.

Ways to Connect

When 31-year-old Shannon Lawley died at a Brevard County hospital four years ago, her parents wanted to file a medical malpractice suit. But only spouses or children can sue under Florida law, and Shannon Lawley had neither.

Michael Lawley felt the law was so unfair that he protested to the legislature the year after she died, as Health News Florida reported at the time. 

Florida Board of Medicine

A Florida doctor held criminally negligent in the fiery deaths of a child and his grandmother in a hyperbaric chamber has lost his medical license, seven years after the tragedy made international headlines.

The Florida Board of Medicine revoked the medical license of Dr. George Daviglus and those of four other physicians on Friday at a disciplinary hearing in Altamonte Springs. 

Associated Press

For most hospitals in Florida, Medicare is changing the way it pays for hip- and knee-replacement operations to ensure that patients get the right care at the right time at the right price for taxpayers. 

Suarez Urology

Twelve years ago, right after getting a diagnosis of prostate cancer, Carl Sola of Homestead flew with his wife to the Dominican Republic for a treatment he couldn't get in the United States.

His friends warned him not to risk an unproven procedure, one his insurance didn’t cover. 

Barry Gutierrez/NPR

The Florida Legislature has killed a measure that would let doctors increase what they charge patients for copies of medical records to $1 a page.

FDA: Florida Stem Cell Clinic Violates Law

Feb 8, 2016
U.S. Food and Drug Administration

A South Florida clinic that promotes controversial stem-cell treatments for a wide range of ailments is among the centers receiving a written warning that it is violating federal public health laws.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

A final report from Gov. Rick Scott’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding is recommending that Floridians should be able to find out ahead of time what it will actually cost before going into the hospital for non-emergency treatment.

Sammy Mack / Health News Florida

A consumer health measure aimed at protecting insured patients from surprise bills was filed Thursday by state Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah.  

  A state official who wants to rescue insured patients from surprise health-care bills has crafted a road map for the Florida Legislature’s upcoming session.

Carol Gentry / WUSF Public Media

Until three years ago, Ed Hancock traveled the world, a high-level executive for AmerisourceBergen, a global drug packaging and distribution company.

Carol Gentry / WUSF Public Media

When you’ve been diagnosed with an incurable disease, there’s a huge incentive to sign up for a drug trial. But what if you’re healthy? What’s the incentive?

That’s the challenge facing researchers in a groundbreaking double-blind trial of an experimental drug meant to ward off Alzheimer’s disease. It is the Anti-Amyloid Treatment and Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease trial, better known as “A4.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated and contains a correction.

Florida lawmakers should enact more protections for health-insurance consumers and families of workers in small businesses, a state advisory board says.

David and Melanie Rogers

Millions of Floridians -- including 175,000 state workers and their families -- are in health plans that place them at risk for whopping surprise bills after hospital treatment.

American Community Survey (ACS) data from 2014 .

More than 67,000 Florida children gained health insurance coverage last year with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, according to a report released Wednesday by Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute.

HealthCare.gov

Two weeks before the federal Health Insurance Marketplace opens for enrollment, a major national company is withdrawing its Florida plans from the exchange. 

HealthCare.gov

Florida still has nearly 2.8 million residents who lack health insurance, according to a new report, and 80 percent of them are uninsured for reasons that have nothing to do with Medicaid politics.

YouTube

A doctor accused of giving a toddler a fatal dose of an unapproved drug was declared “very, very dangerous” at a meeting of the Florida Board of Medicine on Friday. But she escaped serious discipline by agreeing to go away and stay away.

YouTube

A doctor who says she is “dedicated to the natural treatment of cancer” has been ordered to appear before the Florida Board of Medicine on Friday to explain the death of a toddler from an unapproved drug.

Carol Gentry / Health News Florida

Videos accusing psychiatrists and the drug industry of inventing diseases and defrauding the public are the centerpiece of a modest storefront museum that quietly opened this summer in downtown Clearwater.

They suggest that many drugs prescribed for anxiety, depression and other mental-health conditions are responsible for mass shootings and other violence.

Florida Board of Medicine

Orthopedic surgeon Edward Homan, who served eight years in the Florida House of Representatives, is the latest high-profile physician to be publicly embarrassed after operating on the wrong side of a patient.

He told the Florida Board of Medicine on Friday that the error shook him to the core.  “It’s like going through a divorce. It’s very painful,” he said. “It’s all you can think about for months.”

Florida Board of Medicine

Orthopedic surgeon Edward Homan, who served eight years in the Florida House of Representatives, is the latest high-profile physician to be publicly embarrassed after operating on the wrong side of a patient.

Homan, who served as president of the Hillsborough County Medical Association and was chief of staff at a Tampa hospital for many years, must appear before the Florida Board of Medicine on Friday.

Carol Gentry / Health News Florida

When multiple sclerosis patient Meesha Cook suffers a seizure, she doesn’t get to decide where she’ll go for treatment.

If the Brevard County resident is at her job, as a cashier at Lowe’s Home Improvement in Rockledge, paramedics take her down the road to Wuesthoff Medical Center.

If she’s at home in Viera, the next town south, they take her to the hospital there.

Cook would much rather go to Viera Hospital, she says, not only because it is new and Wuesthoff is decades older. The nurses at Viera are nicer, and quicker to respond, said Cook, 42.

Carol Gentry / Health News Florida

Univita Health, which gained control of the entire Florida Medicaid home-care market a year ago, has suddenly lost all of its HMO contracts.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration made the announcement in an e-mail blast late Tuesday afternoon. 

Univita, based in Miramar, stopped processing requests for home health-care services, durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, and intravenous therapy “effective immediately,” AHCA said.

AHCA provided no reasons for its announcement, but released a statement this morning.

RighttoTry.org

While the “Right to Try Act,” which aims to give dying patients the right to try unapproved experimental drugs, is law in Florida as of today, its implementation isn't so clear.

In theory, the Right to Try law allows terminally ill patients access to drugs that have passed first-phase clinical trials and are going through later-stage trials as part of a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration.

Medicaid health plans, which lost $543 million in the first half-year of Florida’s Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program, have been hoping for major rate relief Sept. 1, when the second year of the program begins.

The Agency for Health Care Administration has proposed a rate increase averaging 6.4 percent for the coming year, ranging from less than 1 percent in the Pasco-Pinellas Counties region to 14 percent in two north Florida regions that cover rural counties.

Florida Senate

Bills that involve state workers' health insurance, nurse-practitioners and hospital regulations died during this week's Legislative special session because the Senate has declined to consider them.

Senate Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean said in a statement Monday evening that his colleagues felt there wasn't time to consider major policy changes by Friday, the last day of the special session called to finish work on a state budget.

The issues contained in the House bills require "a thorough and proper vetting," said Bean, R-Fernandina Beach.

Florida House of Representatives

A bill that would overturn 40 years of hospital regulation in Florida is one of four contentious issues scheduled for a key House committee this morning and a Senate workshop this afternoon.

HB 31A would abolish the requirement for a state-issued “Certificate of Need” (CON) before building or expanding a hospital. It’s likely to pass the House Health and Human Services Committee this morning, since its sponsor is the committee chairman, Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford.

Humana has sent letters to its Florida customers alerting them that as of July 10, HCA hospitals will no longer be part of the insurer’s network.  

When it comes to insurance disputes, this is the heavyweight division. Humana, based in Louisville, has close to 1 million Medicare patients in Florida plus hundreds of thousands of business and individual customers who sign up through insurance agents or the federal Marketplace for subsidized plans under the Affordable Care Act.

YouTube.com

One of Florida’s most experienced OB-GYNs was “grossly negligent” in attempting a vaginal delivery in a risky case that ended in a stillbirth, the Florida Board of Medicine said Friday.

Meeting in Palm Beach Gardens, the board told Dr. Simion Tsinker of Hallandale Beach that he should not have attempted a vaginal delivery in a breech case when the mother had another risk: She had previously had a cesarean section.

YouTube.com

Update: The Florida Board of Medicine on Friday recommended that Dr. Simion Tsinker be suspended. More here.

The most controversial issue in childbirth – when to let nature take its course, when to do surgery – underlies a state complaint to go before the Florida Board of Medicine on Friday.

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