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.

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.

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.

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.

The largest individual donor to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's Right to Rise Super PAC is South Florida health care entrepreneur Miguel "Mike" Fernandez, who donated $3 million. Separately, more than two dozen other companies with Florida addresses have contributed $100,000 or more to Right to Rise, records show.

The largest Florida corporate donor to a super political action committee backing Bush's presidential run is NextEra Energy Inc., the company that owns electric utility giant Florida Power & Light.

Under a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice, a Miami pharmacist has pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud for his role in submitting more than $1.8 million in false claims to Medicare, according to a news release from the DOJ. Evelio Fernandez Penaranda, the owner of  Naranja Pharmacy Inc., admitted to submitting claims for Medicare beneficiaries and doctors without their consent.

The CEO of the taxpayer-supported Palm Beach County Health Care District resigned Tuesday after a no-confidence vote by the board, the Palm Beach Post reports.   Dr. Ron Wiewora spent 15 years with the health district, which coordinates the county’s safety net health care services for the poor at Lakeside Medical Center in Belle Glade and the C.L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics, the Post reports.

Dr. Akram Ismail of Lake County has been accused of taking upskirt videos of women at Publix after customers noticed his behavior and reported him to store officials, the Orlando Sentinel reports. It’s not the first time he has been in trouble with the law -- he was previously accused of hiring a hit man to kill a business partner, the Sentinel reports.

Agency for Health Care Administration

The Florida Agency For Health Care Administration is demanding to see Medicaid contracts between hospitals and health insurers, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Hospital Corporation of America hospitals will remain “in-network” under Humana health insurance plans, the Tampa Bay Times reports.The HCA chain is one of the largest nationally and has 22 hospitals and surgery centers in the Tampa Bay area.

Florida Governor's Office

Gov. Rick Scott signed a new law Monday that will allow Floridians with disabilities to save up to $100,000 without losing state or federal benefits, the Miami Herald reports.

The Florida Achieving a Better Life Experience Act creates trust funds – managed by the state – that allows disabled adults to remain financially independent while still receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits, the Herald reports.

Florida consumers face the risk of higher insurance rates if the merger of health care giants Humana and Aetna goes through, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

A Health Management, Policy and Innovation analysis of an insurance company merger in Nevada saw consumer costs increase 14 percent, the Times reports.

Following a trend among other health care groups trying to improve their bottom line, Planned Parenthood has merged offices in Orlando, Naples and Sarasota to create Planned Parenthood of Southeast and Central Florida, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Planned Parenthood says it now has many more patients who have health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and it has had to hire more staff to handle the 25 third-party health insurance contracts.