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.

At his site Our Health Policy Matters, consultant Paul Gionfriddo writes that the states refusing to participate in setting up insurance exchanges might actually be doing residents a favor. The states that are refusing have such a poor track record on health policy, Gionfriddo says, that the people will get better care if their state isn’t involved.

Tampa Bay Times

Three years ago, state officials wanted to acquire a piece of “environmentally sensitive” land along the Peace River, but the $14-million price tag was too high. Now the state has a chance to grab the land for free and turn it into a state park. Yet the current regime at DEP has turned down the offer, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

When Harry Stewart died days after entering a Leesburg nursing facility, his daughter filed a wrongful-death suit against the facility.  She wanted the arbitration agreement Harry had signed upon entering thrown out. A lower court had backed the nursing home; now the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the case should go to arbitration, rather than a jury trial, News Service of Florida reports.

Associated Press

Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but women are slightly more likely to have problems with hip replacements than men, the Associated Press reports.

Last week, the Senate Select Committee on the Affordable Care Act heard presentations critical of Medicaid expansion -- one of the most important issues facing this year's Legislature.

The presentations concerned the experience of Maine and Arizona, both of which expanded their Medicaid programs several years ago, only to regret it. See "Medicaid Expansion Can Backfire, Witnesses Say."

Jupiter Images

Of 51 Florida doctors who never paid back their federal school loans, more than half are chiropractors, according to federal data compiled by Scripps Howard News Service.

While the state Health Department and professional boards can take action in such cases, they are slow to move. It took Florida’s Health Department eight years after a court found a chiropractor in default to issue an “emergency” suspension order.

Talk about alternative treatments.

Fecal transplants, still considered experimental, are being tried at a dozen hospitals around the country for stubborn Clostridium difficile infections that don't respond to antibiotics. One of those centers, as the Sun Sentinel reports, is Boca Raton Regional.

Tampa Bay Times

In a tour de force of multimedia reporting, John Woodrow Cox of the Tampa Bay Times describes the scene, hour by hour, at Williams Park in downtown St. Petersburg.

Even more than usual, health-care issues are some of the most important coming before the Legislature this year. At the top of the list is the chance to expand Medicaid, thereby providing coverage to 1 million uninsured Floridians at little to no cost to state taxpayers, the Orlando Sentinel writes.

Other issues that merit attention: improving mental health funding and getting rid of local hospital taxes.

Florida’s Department of Health has ordered Orange Park Medical Center to immediately halt the operation of its trauma center, the Florida Times-Union reports. Meanwhile, Jackson Health System has withdrawn a petition that would force a competing trauma center to shut down, the Miami Herald reports.

Fort Myers News-Press

Retired physician John Agnew takes readers through the history of medical treatments that we now know are ineffective or even harmful. In his column in the Fort Myers News-Press, he wonders what we’ll think of today’s “miracles” years from now.

Florida Current

Even though a repeal on the red-light camera law passed in committee 10-8, the closeness of the vote shows the bill may not last long, the Bradenton Herald reports. While some lawmakers say the cameras are just money-makers, others lawmakers and interest groups insist they save lives.

Researchers with the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville have found an abnormal protein that collects in the brains of patients who have Lou Gehrig’s disease or frontotemporal dementia, the Florida Times-Union reports.

For Floridians with the most advanced form of macular degeneration, a mini telescope implant could dramatically help their vision, but it’s only available at one hospital in the state.

It’s ridiculous that hospitals won’t provide patients with something as simple as the total price of a specific procedure, according to an editorial from the Tampa Bay Times.

Tampa Bay Times

The brother of the woman, who he says was mentally ill, is outraged that the off-duty officers who shot her to death have each been given a Medal of Valor by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Emma Morrison was born last year to a mother who had permanently lost custody of her four other children and both of Emma’s parents had a long history of domestic violence, drug abuse, and arrests. Yet child-service workers sent the newborn home with her mother. It did not end well, the Miami Herald reports.

TLC

An Orlando couple discuss how they take coffee enemas each day -- sometimes more than one -- on the episode of My Strange Addiction that airs tonight, the Tampa Bay Times reports. They declined to demonstrate on camera.

An employee of the Palm Beach County Health Department was arrested for stealing the personal information of 2,800 patients, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Lawmakers think this could be the year they actually pass a ban on texting-while-driving, the Lakeland Ledger reports.

Yesterday’s two-hour hearing is more than lawmakers have given similar proposals in previous sessions, the Ledger reports.

AP

Illegal immigrants aren't supposed to be covered under Medicaid except in emergencies. It turns out that emergency care adds up to a lot of money, as Phil Galewitz of Kaiser Health News reports.

At his site Our Health Policy Matters, consultant Paul Gionfriddo writes that the debate over Medicaid expansion often leaves out the human dimension: the early deaths that can be prevented through primary and preventive care.

A 52-year-old guard who worked at an infamous private youth prison for teens has been arrested after six girls reported he sexually abused them, according to the Pensacola News Journal. The Milton Girls Juvenile Residential Facility, which operated under contract with the state, was closed after a security video showed a staff member slamming a girl against a wall.

Nearly a decade ago Dr. Alan Freedman of Tampa reported a kickback scheme involving a Venice dermatologist and a Tampa pathology lab; now his payday has come. As the U.S. Department of Justice says in a press release, Freedman’s share of the recovery adds up to $4 million.

The dermatologist, Steven J. Wasserman, settled the case with federal authorities by agreeing to pay more than $26 million.

The National Institutes of Health has approved a $7-million, five-year grant to Mayo Clinic Jacksonville to boost its study on Parkinson’s disease, according to the Florida Times-Union.

Too many patients leave the hospital, only to bounce back within a few weeks -- an indication that either they were discharged too soon or they were unable to care for themselves properly. In measures of this revolving-door syndrome, called “readmission,”  Florida hospitals score among the highest and the lowest, as Health News Florida reported last year.

Miami Herald

Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to leave mental-health spending where it stands after $24 million in cuts last year troubles advocates for patients, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. Scott has proposed a budget of $722.7 million for mental health.

Florida Current

Two kinds of eye doctors -- optometrists and ophthalmologists -- have returned to the Legislature to resume their 30-year-old turf war, which has generated a lot of heat and campaign contributions.

Channel 10 News

One of the largest treatment programs in the world, Narconon, claims to have incredibly high success rates. But it also uses techniques that mental health professionals call “quackery” and caused, according to one family, the death of their daughter, 10 News in Tampa reports.

Broward Bulldog

Broward Health Commissioner David Di Pietro said the healthy system could owe up to $100 million in civil liability related to a federal investigation, according to the Broward Bulldog.

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