Health News Florida Staff

Health News Florida is the only news publication dedicated to covering health issues in the nation’s third largest state.

We hold health care policy makers, powerbrokers and practitioners accountable. And our independent reporting, online and on public radio, emphasizes how issues of cost, quality and health care access affect all Floridians.

Founded in 2006, Health News Florida joined WUSF Public Media in Tampa in September 2012. In October 2014, Health News Florida expanded its coverage by adding reporters at public radio stations WLRN in Miami, and WMFE in Orlando.

According to the Miami Herald, Baptist Health South Florida is enjoying tax exempt-status and raking in millions as it makes its network unavailable to many low- and middle-income patients.

A screening system for the state's Children's Medical Services program has resulted in the removal of 9,000 poor and disabled children from the program, the Miami Herald reports.

In recent months, hospital systems in Florida have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to settle allegations of illegally compensating physicians. According to Modern Healthcare, those huge settlements are catching the attention of other potential whistleblowers.

Wikimedia Commons

A jury convicted Delray Beach physician Dr. Barry Schultz last week on 55 counts of distributing narcotics to pain clinic patients, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Florida Department of Children and Families

The 2010 death of a 23-year-old man at the North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center in Gainesville can be blamed on worker stress and staff shortages, the facility’s former administrator told the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Park Royal Hospital

New depositions and court records suggest that staff at Park Royal Hospital in Fort Myers may have lied to police and lawyers about their screening of the job application of a man who admitted  sexually assaulting mentally-ill patients in 2013, according to court records reviewed by the Naples Daily News.

Gov. Rick Scott is recommending a health care price transparency bill that would limit how much hospitals charge patients, Politico reports.

Students at the abruptly closed Dade Medical College campuses were told Monday that they could be getting training from teachers at another program, possibly from another for-profit school, the Miami Herald reports.

Florida Department of Children and Families

More than $100 million in budget cuts at Florida’s state mental have created an environment where patients are being injured by one another, hurting themselves, and in some cases, attacking the workers assigned to protect and treat then, a joint investigation from the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

The Florida Hospital Association is asking current and potential patients to send questions about bills and medical procedures directly to the group, after 85 people submitted price-gouging complaints to the state’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding, Politico reports.

Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt Cancer Center once had plans to expand services at The Villages Regional Hospital. But now, Moffitt is leaving the retirement community, and as the Orlando Sentinel reports, Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute will provide all cancer-treatment service for the Central Florida Health Alliance hospital.

Pafford To Lead Health-Advocacy Group

Oct 16, 2015
Florida House of Representatives

House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, was named Thursday as chief executive officer of Florida CHAIN, a health-care advocacy group that has sought to sway the Florida Legislature on issues such as Medicaid expansion.

Simply Healthcare

Leadership changes have been announced for two Florida Medicaid plans that are merging. 

Amerigroup Florida and Simply Healthcare Plans announced in a statement that Lourdes Rivas, the CEO of Simply Healthcare, will be the Florida Medicaid plan president for the new consolidated operations. Amerigroup Florida president and CEO Rosy Cozad, will take a new post within the organization.

myfloridahouse.gov

Two state lawmakers -- one an orthopedic surgeon and the other a dentist  -- have submitted an eight-year health plan for Florida that includes having the state run its own Medicaid program, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

South Florida’s Baptist Health hospital network is moving into Palm Beach County with the acquisition of two Bethesda Health hospitals in Boynton Beach, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

Florida’s Low Income Pool program – the issue that brought the Legislature to an abrupt halt this spring - is receiving its fourth temporary extension to continue paying hospitals that treat uninsured people, Politico Florida reports.

Lottie Watts / Health News Florida

Update: 3:50 p.m. Mallory Deason, communications director for the Agency for Health Care Administration, released the following statement in regards to the Politico Florida story.

“This morning, Politico Florida published an article that claimed that AHCA has not been forthcoming regarding a public records request they filed. The article claimed that our office has not been responsive when, in fact, AHCA communication’s staff has been in constant contact with Politico regarding this request, including several updates via telephone last week.

Adventist Health System will pay $115 million to the U.S. Department of Justice to settle claims it offered doctors perks for patient referrals, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Questionable salaries of several Broward Health cardiologists is a central complaint in a whistleblower lawsuit that led to a recent $69.5 million settlement, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. The federal government challenged the hours reported by “medical directors” at Broward Health, according to the Sun Sentinel.

The governor's office has responded to a Politico story that shows a news release involving Planned Parenthood failed to include findings from state health regulators.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

According to Politico Florida, Gov. Rick Scott's office reworded a news release from Florida Agency for Health Care Administration regulators that said fetal remains were not mishandled at Planned Parenthood clinics in Florida.

Humana.com

A recent federal court decision in Miami may help health care providers who are suing plans that have slashed Medicare Advantage payments, Modern Healthcare reports.

The monthly premiums for many of the plans sold on the federal health insurance marketplace will be increasing for Floridians in 2016, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. 

A shortage of nursing home space across Florida will be helped by the addition of almost 1,000 more new beds.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A U.S. representative whose district includes eastern Orange County is becoming more prominent in the controversy over vaccines and autism, the Orlando Sentinel reports. 

Broward Health

North Broward Hospital District's Broward Health has offered nearly $70 million to settle allegations the taxpayer-supported health district committed Medicare and Medicaid fraud, the Florida Bulldog reports.

To The Editor:

I understand Health News Florida did not write the story on pharmacies being allocated narcotics, however, I think a disservice to the citizens of Florida to have it be a lead story.

Planned Parenthood says three of its Florida clinics can resume performing first-trimester abortions after reaching an agreement with state health officials.

AHCA Auditing Hospitals Over Medicaid Costs

Aug 13, 2015
Agency for Health Care Administration

  The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration will audit 31 hospitals to determine whether their contracts with Medicaid managed-care plans comply with state law, according to a list released Wednesday by Gov. Rick Scott's office.

AHCA Secretary Liz Dudek on July 17 sent a letter that requested hospitals and insurers certify that they did not exceed a limit on Medicaid payment rates. That limit is 120 percent of a Medicaid fee schedule.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Health care sharing ministries, an alternative to health insurance allowed under the Affordable Care Act, have grown in popularity since 2010 with about 450,000 Americans now participating, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

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