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 Master's in Public Administration at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1996.  She directed a journalism fellowship program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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. 

Gentry retired in the summer of 2017. Contact Health News Florida Editor Julio Ochoa at 813-974-8633 or by e-mail.

Ways to Connect

Two measures that would bar public money from subsidizing abortion coverage in Florida in nearly all cases, even indirectly, passed the Senate Health Regulation Committee on Monday.

SB 1414 would apply to policies sold on the health-insurance exchange that will be set up by 2014 as part of the federal health law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Gov. Rick Scott will allow a state agency to accept a $35.7-million federal health grant, even though the funds flow from a law that Scott hates and says is invalid.

The Agency for Health Care Administration won the “Money Follows the Person” grant from the Department of Health and Human Services on Feb. 22. Florida was one of 13 states that won the grants, which pay for services that enable people who are mentally or physically disabled to get out or stay out of nursing homes.

If we value our family doctors, why do we pay them so much less than specialists?

The Medicare payment system has been very good to physicians who use tools (scans, scalpels, stents, etc.) and not so good to those who use their heads.

A primary care physician's job is time-consuming: asking good questions, listening well, and thinking about possibilities. And yet there is little financial reward for those activities -- which is why primary care gets dissed in most medical schools and the ranks of family doctors are dwindling.

Ever since Gov. Rick Scott said a week ago that he wanted to kill the state’s planned prescription drug monitoring program, medical groups in the state have been strangely silent.

The Florida Medical Association – the same group that made passage of the monitoring program a top issue and helped pass it in 2009 – now says “no comment.”

A similar lack of response came from some members of the state’s medical boards who just last August asked state officials to strengthen the law to require pain-clinic doctors to use the database.

Urine, a substance so worthless that it’s flushed down the toilet, has become liquid gold in the pain-management business.

At some busy practices, gallons of the stuff are collected and tested daily to make sure patients are taking only the narcotics prescribed for them, and that patients are actually swallowing the pills, not selling them.

Cops, grieving parents and editorial boards say they're appalled at Gov. Rick Scott's idea of repealing the planned prescription drug monitoring system, aimed at catching drug-dealers who go "doctor-shopping" for narcotics.

Columnists, however, are having great fun at Scott's expense.

Gov. Rick Scott wants to repeal the law setting up a prescription-drug monitoring system in Florida -- one of the long-sought tools for battling pill mills -- even though it's already paid for.

When Health News Florida questioned the unexpected move this morning, governor's office spokeswoman Amy Graham confirmed it.

"He does not believe this is a function that is best performed by government," she wrote in an e-mail. She did not say who Scott thinks is best positioned to run the system.

Gov. Rick Scott's list of appointees he's dumping includes the chair and vice-chair of the Florida Board of Medicine and the interim secretaries of the Agency for Health Care Administration and Elder Affairs.

When the list was released on Wednesday night, it wasn't clear whether the unwanted appointees would be immediately dropped -- a crucial question, given that the medical board has disciplinary hearings scheduled Friday. The Scott letter didn't make that clear. A press-office aide reached Thursday morning said she didn't know but would try to find out.

By Carol Gentry
11/5/2010 © Health News Florida

By Carol Gentry
10/20/2010 © Health News Florida

Florida has more than 80 licensed pain clinics that are not owned by physicians, despite a widespread impression that the Legislature required such ownership in a law that took effect Oct. 1. Counting pending applications, the total will soon be more than 100.

By Carol Gentry
10/14/2010 Health News Florida

Doctors who work in Florida pain clinics should write no more than 150 prescriptions a day for potentially addictive and dangerous drugs, a state panel decided today.

The proposed rule, aimed at curbing pill mills that make Florida a magnet for drug abusers, is based on an average of three prescriptions per patient for a physician seeing 50 patients per day. A part-timer's limit would be lower, pro-rated on the same formula.

By Jim Saunders and Carol Gentry
10/13/2010 © Health News Florida

Anyone who hasn't noticed the big difference between the world views of doctors and nurses could catch on just by looking at their  endorsements in the Florida governor's race.

To the Florida Medical Association, the overriding factor in the election of the next governor is protection against medical-malpractice lawsuits. Tort reform trumps every other issue, and FMA believes Republican Rick Scott can deliver it.

By Carol Gentry
10/8/2010 Health News Florida

Four community health centers in Florida will share $14.5 million  for expansion, and five counties will share nearly $10 million for addiction treatment through federal grants announced today.

By Carol Gentry
9/22/2010 © Health News Florida

Four years ago, Omnicare paid almost $50 million to settle charges of cheating Medicare and Medicaid. No one at the giant drug supply company was criminally charged. No one was fired.

Since then, the Kentucky company has repeatedly paid settlements on false claims and kickbacks, totaling nearly $200 million. Each time, it denied doing anything wrong and signed a “corporate integrity agreement.” No one was held responsible.

By Carol Gentry
9/21/2010 © Health News Florida

Medicare Advantage plan enrollees will see a 1 percent reduction in premiums for next year, on average, and increased protection against out-of-pocket spending, federal health officials said today.

The new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama in March gave officials power to negotiate with Medicare plan sponsors for the first time, and they did so with gusto, said Donald Berwick, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

FL C-sections driven by culture?

Sep 21, 2010

By Dave Gulliver and Carol Gentry
9/21/2010 © Health News Florida

A report from California last week found a statistically significant link between high rates for cesarean-section births and the for-profit status of hospitals. Health News Florida ran a similar analysis and found no such association.

By Carol Gentry
9/2/2010 © Health News Florida

A Boca Raton company that had distributed the "BAX 3000” received a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration last month ordering it to stop claiming that the biofeedback-plus-laser system worked for asthma, allergies, autism and other ailments.

By Carol Gentry
8/16/2010 © Health News Florida

The Florida Medical Association decided Sunday after two days of heated debate not to break off relations with the American Medical Association, officials and delegates said at the conclusion of the event.

Instead, FMA will send AMA a letter describing just how unhappy it is with the national group’s actions on health reform.