Lottie Watts

Health News Florida Producer/Reporter

Lottie Watts covers health and health policy for Health News Floridanow a part of WUSF Public Media.  She also produces Florida Matters, WUSF's weekly public affairs show. 

She earned a master’s degree in journalism and media studies from University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where she was the editor and graduate assistant at the Neighborhood News Bureau. She earned a bachelor of science in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University, where she interned at WSTM-TV and WSYR-TV.

If you have a story you want to share, contact Lottie by email or phone: 813-974-8705. 

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HNF Stories
5:49 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

FDA Rules Could Snuff Out ‘Cigar City’

Tuptim Ploysawon has worked at J.C. Newman Cigar Factory for almost five years.
Lottie Watts WUSF

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants to add new regulations to additional tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, pipe tobacco and cigars.

The proposed regulations are not going down well in Tampa's Ybor City, which has been rolling out cigars since 1886.

At the J.C. Newman Cigar Company, the machines hum and vibrate enough to shake the old wooden floor boards.

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10:56 am
Wed July 16, 2014

DOH Pushing for Tougher Drug Database Rule

Lead in text: 
The Florida Department of Health wants to tighten security on the state’s prescription drug database after names and prescriptions histories of 3,000 were released last year to attorneys after a multi-agency drug sting, the News Service of Florida reports. The new restrictions lay out terms of use for law enforcement agencies and officials, including requiring training before law enforcement could access the database. As Dara Kam with News Service reports, DOH had wanted to require court orders to access the database, but that idea was rejected by the Florida Legislature.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
After Florida lawmakers failed to address the issue this spring, health officials are advancing an effort to tighten security on the state's prescription
HNF Stories
8:19 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Will Manatees Be Taken Off the Endangered List?

Manatees at the Lowry Park Zoo
Lottie Watts WUSF

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 5:01 pm

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HNF Stories
10:14 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Cigar Factory Pushes Back on Proposed Regulation

Tuptim Ploysawon has worked at J.C. Newman Cigar Factory for almost five years.
Lottie Watts WUSF

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 8:44 am

Gov. Rick Scott's office is continuing to push back against cigar regulations proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

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9:18 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Scott Still Fighting for Worker Drug Tests

Lead in text: 
While the American Civil Liberties Union continues its legal fight over drug tests for state employees, Gov. Rick Scott is giving up on his proposal to test workers in about 1,000 job classifications, the News Service of Florida reports. Still, according to court documents, Scott wants to require drug testing for about half of the state’s job categories. The tests are on hold until an agreement can be reached.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Gov. Rick Scott has capitulated in his crusade to require all state workers to submit to suspicionless drug tests, giving up on about half of the state's
10:48 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Managed Care Answer in Medicaid Battle?

Lead in text: 
Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration will argue in a hearing today that its new Medicaid managed-care system, which takes full effect next month, should end a legal battle over the quality of care for children in Florida’s Medicaid program. As the News Service of Florida reports, the lawsuit brought by the Florida Pediatric Society says low payment rates mean doctors can’t afford to treat children, thus denying the young Medicaid patients access to physicians. A federal judge will hear the case Tuesday in Miami.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Pointing to a new managed-care system, the state is seeking to scuttle a long-running lawsuit that challenges the adequacy of care provided to children in
10:15 am
Tue July 8, 2014

State Gets to Work on Pot Rules

Lead in text: 
The Florida Department of Health's proposed rule for the cultivation and sale of a certain type of low-THC medical marijuana garnered a slew of suggested changes and complaints during a Monday workshop in Tallahassee, the News Service of Florida reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
State health regulators heard an earful from growers, lawyers and lobbyists seeking to rake in some green from Florida's new pot industry during a standing
HNF Stories
11:04 am
Thu June 26, 2014

WellCare Names FL President

Gregg MacDonald
Credit WellCare

WellCare Health Plans Inc.'s acting president for Florida has been chosen as the official president of the company for the state. Gregg MacDonald, who has been acting president since April 4, has been WellCare's chief operating officer for Florida since May 2007, according to a news release.

MacDonald will be in charge of WellCare’s Medicaid and Medicare Advantage businesses across Florida. The health insurer has its headquarters in Tampa.

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HNF Stories
6:05 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Storm Prep Critical for Medically Needy

Dr. Theo Sai is the chief medical officer for senior products for Humana in Central Florida. He's also lived through several hurricanes.
Lottie Watts WUSF

When a hurricane is approaching, everyone needs to have a plan in place. When you have medical needs, that preparation becomes even more critical.

Dr. Theo Sai is the chief medical officer for senior products for Humana in Central Florida.  He's also lived through several hurricanes.  

“I remember the worst one for me was in the Bahamas, where I was on the first floor and it was a pretty bad hurricane, and Nassau typically floods a lot,” Said said.

When he offers advice on preparing for hurricanes, it comes from his own experience.

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Board of Medicine
10:00 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Board Disciplines Doctor in Fatal Overdose

Dr. Betty Jo Carter of Ruskin
Credit Lottie Watts / WUSF

During its meeting Friday in Tampa, the Florida Board of Medicine issued fines and penalties against Hillsborough County physician Betty Jo Carter, for her role in a friend's death.

She was accused of overmedicating a patient and speeding up his death.  She was charged with malpractice, inappropriate drug dispensing and records violations.

She said her patient, Gary Lazar, was dying and had refused hospice care. She said she felt obliged to stay overnight at her patient's home.

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HNF Stories
10:25 am
Wed May 28, 2014

No Kids-in-Cars Deaths So Far

KidsAndCars.org

Around this time last year, five children in Florida had died after being forgotten in a vehicle. So far this year, there are no reports of such deaths in Florida, according to the child safety website KidsAndCars.org.

"I'm happy as can be that there haven't been any deaths in Florida, and we'd really like to keep it that way,” said Janette Fennell, founder of KidsAndCars.org.

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HNF Stories
4:15 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Nearly 1M Floridians Enroll

Credit healthcare.gov

Nearly 1 million Floridians signed up for a health insurance plan through the federally-run Health Insurance Marketplace during the first open enrollment period, according to numbers from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Among the states using the federal government's exchange -- healthcare.gov -- Florida had the highest number, with 983,479 enrolled.

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HNF Stories
4:45 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

'EpiPen' Bill Headed to Scott

Credit Mylan Specialty

 

 A bill that would increase access to epinephrine auto-injectors used for treating allergic reactions is headed to Florida Gov. Rick Scott's desk.

The measure allows businesses to stock and administer epinephrine auto-injectors, also known as EpiPens, to someone experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction.

The measure passed in the Florida House unanimously last week; it passed in the Florida Senate unanimously Tuesday.

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HNF Stories
10:44 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Free Dental Care Draws Crowd

Stella Mikesell of Brandon had a filling and an extraction.
Lottie Watts WUSF

 Over two days at the Florida State Fairgrounds, volunteers organized by the Florida Dental Association provided more than $1 million in free services.

When volunteers got there to open the doors on the first day at 5 a.m., there were more than 800 people in line, according to association president Terry Buckenheimer. By the end of the event, volunteers served 1,660 patients.

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Florida Matters
11:03 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Florida Matters: Answering Listener Questions on the Affordable Care Act

Linda Fleming, an attorney with Carlton Fields Jorden Burt
Kate Barth

Originally published on Fri March 28, 2014 6:44 pm

In a Florida Matters show first aired Tuesday night on WUSF 89.7 FM, a panel of experts answers reader and listener questions about the Affordable Care Act.

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HNF Stories
10:33 am
Thu March 27, 2014

How Do I Shop for Insurance? More Listener Questions Answered

Health News Florida Editor Carol Gentry
Lottie Watts

 In a Florida Matters show that first aired Tuesday night on WUSF 89.7 FM, a panel of experts answers reader and listener questions about the Affordable Care Act.

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HNF Stories
9:41 am
Thu March 27, 2014

New to County Health Rankings: Commuting

Traffic on I-275 South in Tampa.
Lottie Watts

  For the first time, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is including the time spent in a car getting to and from work as a factor that influences health in its County Health Rankings.

The addition of the commuting measures comes out of a number of different studies, according to Dr. Roderick King, executive director of the Florida Public Health Institute.   

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HNF Stories
9:03 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Can I Kick My Kid Off My Plan? Listener Questions Answered

Linda Fleming, an attorney with Carlton Fields Jorden Burt
Kate Barth

In a Florida Matters show first aired Tuesday night on WUSF 89.7 FM, a panel of experts answers reader and listener questions about the Affordable Care Act.

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HNF Stories
5:55 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Can Tax Incentives Help 'Food Deserts'?

Roberta Bell's son Brandon outside the new Walmart in Midtown St. Petersburg.
Lottie Watts WUSF

Food deserts, areas where fresh and healthy foods can be hard to come by, are all over Florida. There are efforts under way in the Florida Legislature to provide tax incentives for grocers to open up in these areas.

"There's no single definition for a food desert, but generally, by the term, they mean that it's usually a low-income area, and an area where there are a lot of people that may have problems accessing healthy food," said Michelle Ver Ploeg, an economist with the United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

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HNF Stories
7:24 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Share Your Obamacare Questions

Linda Fleming, an attorney with Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, will be helping us answer the questions you still have about the Affordable Care Act.
Lottie Watts WUSF

As the deadline for getting health insurance nears, you might have some questions about how the Affordable Care Act affects you.

Well, here's your chance to ask.

We want to help sort out all of these changes resulting triggered by Obamacare, especially the looming March 31 deadline that nearly all Americans get coverage.

On an upcoming episode of Florida Matters on WUSF, we will ask a panel of experts to give practical answers to the questions important to you and your family.

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Florida Matters
6:55 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Florida Matters: Planning for Long-Term Care

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 11:37 am

Baby boomers have seen it coming for quite some time -- retirement, senior living and senior survival. 

Experts say most of us begin planning too late for the help we might need as we get older.

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HNF Stories
11:38 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Pirates, Beads and Health Insurance

Laura Ottaviano works full-time as an in-person assister.
Lottie Watts WUSF

Gasparilla is Tampa's version of Mardi Gras -- at least when it comes to the beads, the parade and the partying.

During last weekend's pirate invasion, as people walked around in their best pirate costumes, contractors for the federal government were trying to pitch health plans under the Affordable Care Act.

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Health News Florida
10:26 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Many Still Waiting for Disability Services

Gov. Rick Scott announced the state is increasing to 1,600 the number of people with critical needs moving off the waiting list for disability services.

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HNF Stories
10:56 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Clinic? Social Club? It's Both

Gail Bryant says she comes to the CAC even on days she doesn't have a medical appointment so she can spend time at the Wellness Center.
Yoselis Ramos WUSF

If you weren't looking for it, you might miss it, sitting between a nail salon and a discount grocery store in a shopping plaza that seems to have an endless parking lot. Tucked in the plaza is a multi-million dollar medical clinic. 

"The model is all inclusive, where you can come and get everything taken care of in one place," said Mark Kent, CEO of CAC-Florida Medical Centers, a subsidiary of health insurance giant Humana.

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HNF Stories
10:42 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Public Health Students Test Healthcare.gov

Students in John Petrila's undergraduate health policy class tried to log on to Healthcare.gov, but no one got very far.
Lottie Watts WUSF

John Petrila's health policy class at the University of South Florida is full of undergraduate students glued to their smartphones, tablets and laptops. A perfect place, he reasoned, to test the Healthcare.gov website. 

“These folks are savvy. Every person in here is a tech savvy person whose used to being online,” Petrila said. “No one's in here thinking, ‘Well, what's the Internet?’ If these folks can't navigate this website, then that's a serious problem."

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HNF Stories
11:30 am
Fri November 8, 2013

FL Medicare Plan Ratings Up

A sample of Medicare advertising mailed to one St. Petersburg address over the past few weeks.
Credit Lottie Watts / WUSF

More than half of the Medicare Advantage plans available for enrollment now in Florida for 2014 coverage earned a rating of at least four stars out of five, according to data organized by Avalere Health

Four Florida plans -- all sponsored by Cigna -- earned the coveted five-star rating: three plans in Bay County and one in Miami-Dade. There were no five-star Advantage plans available in 2013 anywhere in Florida.

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HNF Stories
12:11 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Cutting Through Medicare Ad Onslaught

Dr. Steve Freedman with his 2014 Medicare guide book.
Lottie Watts WUSF

It's open enrollment season for Medicare, the time when beneficiaries can switch plans if they want. Plenty of private insurance companies are competing to enroll them in Medicare Advantage plans.

If you have Medicare, or you're getting close to age 65, your mailbox is likely overflowing with offers. The ads are coming at you on TV, too. 

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HNF Stories
11:49 am
Fri November 1, 2013

WellCare Ousts CEO Even Though Earnings Up

Credit Tampa Tribune

Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans, Inc. has replaced chief executive officer Alec Cunningham with chairman David Gallitano. 

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HNF Stories
11:23 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Where to Get Flu Shot, and Why

A USF nursing student at the free flu shot fair.
Lottie Watts WUSF

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HNF Stories
11:50 am
Fri October 25, 2013

FL Adds Medicaid Managed Care Contracts

A report from analyst firm Stifel says Florida has added four more Medicaid managed care contracts in addition to the two insurers, Centene and WellCare, that were awarded contracts in September. 

In October, the state gave contracts to Aetna, Amerigroup, UnitedHealth and Molina.

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