Julio Ochoa

Health News Florida Editor

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.

He comes to WUSF from The Tampa Tribune, where he began as a website producer for TBO.com and served in several editing roles, eventually becoming the newspaper’s deputy metro editor. 

Julio was born and raised in St. Petersburg, and received a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. He earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and worked at a paper in Greeley, Colo., before returning to Florida as a reporter and as breaking news editor for the Naples Daily News.

Contact Julio at 813-974-8633, on Twitter at @julioochoa or email julioochoa@wusf.org.

Downpours from Hurricane Hermine forced wastewater facilities in at least 15 communities around the Tampa Bay area to release millions of gallons of sewage onto residential streets and into water bodies over a seven day period that ended Tuesday.

Oxitec

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday again rejected a Zika funding bill that the House passed in June.

Google Maps

A Tampa firefighter who lives in Pinellas County is the first person with a locally-transmitted case of Zika in the Tampa Bay area.

WLRN

  Transparency is the new buzzword in health care with consumer demand fueling changes to state laws and giving birth to websites that publish prices for medical procedures.

WUSF partnered with WLRN in Miami to launch their own database called PriceCheck. But we're not the only game in town.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

  With the first locally-transmitted case of Zika in Tampa Bay the question on everyone’s minds is where?

Rep.  David Jolly, who represents Pinellas County, is pushing for an answer.

Oxitec

State officials are investigating Pinellas County’s first non-travel-related case of Zika virus, according to a release from Gov. Rick Scott’s office.

Julio Ochoa/WUSF

  The Tampa Bay area's first medical marijuana dispensary opened Thursday morning and it will only be a matter of weeks before another local shop opens.

Julio Ochoa/WUSF

There is only one confirmed case of travel-related Zika in Sarasota County, but that didn’t stop a large crowd of people from bringing their concerns to a forum about the virus.

Moffitt Cancer Center

  Mindfulness meditation is designed to settle and ground you in the present moment.

That's something that Carole Kinder had a difficult time with after her husband was diagnosed with cancer.

Healthcare.gov

Next year Aetna will stop offering health insurance on the Affordable Care Act's public exchanges in Florida and 10 other states.

The move leaves Floridians with fewer choices and ever increasing rates.

Google Maps

Eight people face charges after authorities say they received $157 million in fraudulent insurance claims as part of a scheme involving prescription compounding pharmacies in Pasco County and the Miami area.

Between Oct. 2012 and Dec. 2015 the suspects are accused of submitting $633 million in fraudulent reimbursement claims for prescription compounded medication to Medicare, Tricare and private insurance companies, authorities said.

Office of Gov. Rick Scott

When students head back to school in South Florida, they’ll get supplies they don't typically see.

The state will deliver mosquito repellent to school districts, colleges and universities in hopes of stopping the spread of Zika.

National Institutes of Health

  Researchers say a vaccine for the Zika virus will not be available until at least 2018.

And that's with various trials being fast-tracked as the number of people believed to be infected by mosquitoes in Florida climbs.

Florida Department of Health

  Now that Zika is being transmitted in Florida, epidemiologists expect to see pockets of Zika outbreaks to crop up around the state.

Florida Department of Health

Pregnant women are being asked to stay away from the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Zika-related travel warning for pregnant women to an area just north of Downtown Miami after 10 more people were suspected of getting the virus locally.

Gov. Rick Scott hosted a roundtable in Pinellas Park to discuss Zika.

With 10 new local cases of Zika likely transmitted in the Miami area, local and state officials are doing what they can to keep the state's tourism-friendly reputation intact.

The Florida Department of Health

Florida health officials have identified 10 more people who likely contracted the Zika virus through a mosquito bite in the Miami-Dade County area, bringing the total to 14.

Two more possible non-travel-related cases of Zika virus are being investigated in South Florida, the Florida Department of Health confirmed Wednesday.

Ebyabe (Wikimedia Commons)

  Florida environmental regulators passed new rules Tuesday that will increase the levels of some toxic chemicals allowed in Florida's water.

Advocates for expanding Medicaid are saying the stakes have never been higher, especially in Hillsborough County.

The Commonwealth Fund

Florida cities are losing ground on key health care indicators, according to a report released today.

The researchers say one reason for the decline is the state's decision to not expand Medicaid.

  Though congress is still battling over Zika funding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is handing out $25 million to states to fight the mosquito-borne illness.

Associated Press

Opioid abuse was among the most pressing issues that state legislatures around the country dealt with during 2016, according to a report by Pew.

As many states struggle to deal with the epidemic, Florida is ahead of the curve.

Georgetown University

Since 2014, Florida’s Medicaid program has been run not by the state but through private insurance companies. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune has written about problems with the managed care system and a recent report from Georgetown University surveyed pediatricians to determine how they feel about the system.

Wikimedia Commons

In the hours and days following the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, thousands of people around the state lined up to donate blood for the victims.

But gay men who had sex in the past year were prohibited from giving blood because of a federal policy.

SPENCER PARTS / WLRN

The first case of Zika-related microcephaly was confirmed today in a child born in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The child’s mother is from Haiti and had a travel-related case of Zika. She came to Florida to deliver the baby, authorities said.

The department of health is connecting the mother and child with services through its Early Steps program.

“It is heartbreaking to learn that a baby has been born with Zika-related microcephaly in our state and my thoughts and prayers are with the mother and child,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a release.

United States Marine Corps (Wikimedia Commons)

When it comes to health care in Florida, it pays to shop around.

The cost of a common MRI can vary by thousands of dollars depending on where you go to get it.

According to a report by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, Florida's system for delivering Medicaid to children is among the worst in the nation. 

Google Maps

  The Hillsborough County Health Department issued health advisories for three public beaches today.

Elevated levels of bacteria were found in the water at Simmons Park, Picnic Island and Davis Island.

Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

When the sewer system in St. Petersburg became overwhelmed by rain from Tropical Storm Colin the city had to pump sewage into Tampa Bay.

St. Pete Beach had the same problem and pumped sewage into Boca Ciega Bay.

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