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
12:02 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Impairment Triggers Wrong-Way Crashes

A woman was killed after driving her car the wrong way on southbound I-75 Sept. 22 and striking a tractor trailer in Pasco County.
Florida Highway Patrol

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading causes of injury and death in the United States. And while wrong-way crashes account for a small percentage of the accidents, more than a dozen people have died in an outbreak of wrong-way driving on Tampa-area roads.

"Unfortunately 2014 has been a very tragic year, especially dealing with the wrong way crashes, and we can't really say why this year we've seen such the number we have,” said Sgt. Steve Gaskins with Florida Highway Patrol.

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HNF Stories
9:43 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Poynter to Host African Journalists After USF Cancels

Credit The Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg will host a group of African journalists after their original hosts, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg's Department of Journalism and Media Studies, canceled over concerns of the spread of the Ebola virus. 

The visit is part of the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, which brings 100 international journalists to the United States each year. 

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9:26 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Hearings Set to Resolve Hospitals, AHCA Dispute

Lead in text: 
A statewide coalition of hospitals is challenging the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration over payments for emergency care for undocumented immigrants through the Medicaid program, the News Service of Florida reports. The legal challenge filed last week contends AHCA is out of bounds in its limit on when payments for treatment should end, the News Service reports. Hearings are scheduled for Nov. 12 and Nov. 13.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
A coalition of hospitals from across the state has launched a legal challenge against the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration in a long-running dispute about payments for emergency care provided to undocumented immigrants. The challenge, filed last week in the state Division of Administrative Hearings, involves the extent of emergency care that should be covered for undocumented immigrants through the Medicaid program.
HNF Stories
7:20 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Health Issues Big in Only Attorney General Debate

In the one and only debate among the candidates for Florida Attorney General, health issues came up again and again. Highlights featured in WUSF’s weekly public affairs show Florida Matters include discussions of medical marijuana, pill mills and the so-called “stand-your-ground” law.  

HNF Stories
3:11 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Florida Matters Preview: Attorney General Debate

Left to Right: Al Ruechel (Bay News 9), Ybeth Bruzual (News 13) and Adam Smith (Tampa Bay Times) moderate the only debate among the three candidates for Florida Attorney General: Pam Bondi (incumbent, Republican), George Sheldon (Democrat) and Bill Wohlsifer (Libertarian).

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 9:20 am

Florida's candidates for Attorney General met for their first and only debate earlier this month in the studios of Bay News 9.

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HNF Stories
3:35 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Medicaid Expansion Inspires FL Senate Candidate

Medicaid expansion is an issue in the race for Florida’s Senate District 22, a swing district that covers most of Pinellas County and extends to South Tampa.

"This is an issue that propelled me into the race because I am running against the only senator that voted against the Medicaid expansion,” Democrat Judithanne McLauchlan said.

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HNF Stories
8:44 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Candidate Forum Focuses on Health

Credit Lottie Watts / WUSF

Democratic candidates were the only ones to show at a legislative forum organized by the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative. And each one said Florida needs to take federal funding to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The participants included Lorena Grizzle (D) – House District 66 candidate; Steve Sarnoff (D) – House District 67 candidate; Scott Orsini (D) - House District 69 candidate; and Judithanne McLauchlan (D) – Senate District 22 candidate.

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HNF Stories
8:30 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Florida Matters Preview: Wrong-Way Crashes

Credit Florida Highway Patrol

Since February, there have been five wrong-way crashes that have caused 11 deaths on highways in the Tampa area.

We will take an in-depth look at this apparent outbreak of crashes this week on Florida Matters on Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM.

According to transportation experts and law enforcement, alcohol plays a huge role in the fatal wrong-way crashes.

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9:03 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Report Says Prison Whistleblowers Punished

Lead in text: 
An investigation by the state's Commission on Human Relations has found that whistleblowers at a North Florida prison faced retaliation from their bosses after revealing abuse of inmates, the News Service of Florida reports. The case reveals a re-emerging pattern by the Florida Department of Corrections of repeatedly ignoring inmate abuse and punishing workers who report it, News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: The News Service of Florida
Whistleblowers at a North Florida prison were punished by their bosses after exposing abuse of inmates, including an instance where one guard sprayed noxious chemicals into a prisoner's mouth, according to an investigation by the state's Commission on Human Relations.
9:19 am
Wed September 24, 2014

St. Lucie Getting New Vets’ Nursing Home

Lead in text: 
St. Lucie County will be the site for a new nursing home for military veterans, the News Service of Florida reports. Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet also indicated that they may be considering another new nursing home next year because of high occupancy rates at existing facilities. The new facility will be the seventh veterans’ nursing home in the state and will serve 11 counties on the east coast, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on Tuesday selected St. Lucie County as the site of the state's next nursing home for military veterans -- and indicated they might consider another new nursing home next year. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam voted unanimously to approve the western Port St.
HNF Stories
4:20 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Florida Matters Preview: Are You A Savvy Health Consumer?

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 8:26 am

 The last time you felt dizzy or experienced an unusual pain, be honest.  Did you Google it? Or have you ever read a post on Facebook that got you worried about your health?

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9:40 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Regulators Try Again on Pot Rule

Lead in text: 
The Florida Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use published a revised framework for the state’s new medical marijuana industry Tuesday, after a legislative panel tore an earlier version to shreds, the News Service of Florida reports. The new framework includes tweaks as to who can own the “dispensing organizations” that will grow, process and distribute strains of marijuana that don’t produce a high, but can purportedly provide relief for children with severe forms of epilepsy.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
State regulators have hurriedly released a revamped framework for Florida's new medical-marijuana industry, making minor changes after a legislative panel shredded an earlier attempt. The Department of Health's Office of Compassionate Use on Tuesday published the revised rule governing everything from stems and seeds to serving the substance to patients.
9:27 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Child-Welfare Groups Seek Less Caseworker Turnover

Lead in text: 
Child-welfare advocates say Florida is plagued with high turnover rates among adoption and foster care case managers, the News Service of Florida reports. In some parts of the state, the turnover rate is as high as 80 percent, and averages 37 percent statewide. As the News Service reports, research on how to retain employees was presented at the recent Child Protection Summit in Orlando.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
One of the worst problems facing Florida's troubled child-welfare system, advocates say, is job turnover among the case managers who oversee adoption and foster-care services --- 80 percent in some parts of the state. It's costing Florida tens of millions of dollars a year, and those are just the costs that can be quantified.
HNF Stories
5:36 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Florida Matters Preview: Grady Judd vs. John Morgan on Amendment 2

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 9:35 am

This November, voters in Florida will decide whether or not to legalize medical marijuana.  Recently, The Ledger of Lakeland hosted a forum on Amendment 2. The forum was moderated by Lenore Devore, the paper's editor, and featured Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Orlando attorney John Morgan.

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HNF Stories
10:53 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Adult Obesity Rate Inches Up in FL

Credit AP

Florida has the 37th highest obesity rate among adults, up from its last ranking of 40th, according to a report from Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  

Florida's increase from 25.2 percent in 2012 to 26.4 percent in 2013 is not statistically significant, according to the annual report that's now named “The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America." For the past decade, it was called the "F as in FAT" report.

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HNF Stories
3:13 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Doctors Critical to Human Trafficking Fight

From left to right: WUSF's Carson Cooper, Dr. Maulik K. Trivedi, Connie Rose and Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Credit Mary Shedden

Florida Matters this week took a deeper look at human trafficking, including the role physicians in the state play in identifying those at risk, and treating those who have been victimized.

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10:28 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Former DCF Secretary to Face Bondi

Lead in text: 
A former Department of Children and Families secretary will challenge incumbent Pam Bondi in the race for attorney general, the News Service of Florida reports. Democrat George Sheldon, who was DCF secretary under Gov. Charlie Crist and was an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defeated House Minority Leader Perry Thurston in Tuesday’s primary. As News Service reports, Bondi led the Republican challenge of the federal Affordable Care Act.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Democratic voters believe George Sheldon, a former Department of Children and Families secretary, is their best hope to take on Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi in November. Sheldon, a former state legislator who most recently held a post in the Obama administration, defeated state House Minority Leader Perry Thurston on Tuesday after a mostly cordial primary campaign.
HNF Stories
1:23 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Florida Matters Preview: Human Trafficking

Panel (R-L) Attorney General Pam Bondi; Connie Rose; Dr. Maulik K. Trivedi; and WUSF's Carson Cooper.

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 7:45 am

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Florida is third in the number of calls to the national human trafficking hotline.

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HNF Stories
4:50 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Gun Questions: Free Speech or Intrusion?

A federal appeals court recently upheld a Florida law that limits what doctors can tell their patients about gun ownership.

Doctors claim that it’s their First Amendment right to ask any question they want of their patients including questions about guns. The backers of this law say keeping records on whether they have guns in their homes violates their Second Amendment rights.

WUSF's Craig Kopp spoke with a Jacksonville pediatrician and a firearms expert about whether doctors should talk to patients about guns.

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9:27 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Anesthesiologists Challenge AHCA Rule

Lead in text: 
The Florida Society of Anesthesiologists is challenging the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration over a proposed rule dealing with anesthesiology services in ambulatory surgical centers, the News Service of Florida reports. Anesthesiologists say the AHCA rule would wrongly give supervisor power to certified registered nurse anesthetists.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The Florida Society of Anesthesiologists this week filed a legal challenge against the state Agency for Health Care Administration because of a new proposal dealing with anesthesiology services in ambulatory surgical centers. The challenge, which will go before an administrative law judge, argues that AHCA overstepped its legal authority in drawing up a proposed rule.
9:23 am
Mon August 4, 2014

Lawmaker: Report All Child Deaths

Lead in text: 
The chair of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee wants all child deaths - not just suspicious ones - to be reported in Florida, the News Service of Florida reports. As of July 1, under legislation pushed by State Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, the state Department of Children and Families has to produce a report that includes deaths of children in cases where abuse has been documented. But Sobel says it’s not enough: cases of neglect could still be slipping through the cracks. As Margie Menzel with News Service reports, Sobel will introduce a bill next session requiring all deaths of children to be reported.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The Senate sponsor of Florida's sweeping new child-welfare law says she'll be back next year with a bill to expand its reporting requirements. Sen. Eleanor Sobel, chairwoman of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, said the new law doesn't go far enough in requiring all children's deaths to be reported.
10:35 am
Wed July 30, 2014

FMA Funneling $ for Attack Ads

Lead in text: 
The Florida Medical Association recently gave $300,000 to a political committee running attack ads in a closely contested state legislative race, the News Service of Florida reports. The money went to the “Better Florida Fund Corp.,” which is running ads that criticize Sarasota County Republican Richard DeNapoli. He’s competing against fellow Republican Julio Gonzalez, who is a doctor, to replace term-limited Rep. Doug Holder, R-Venice, in the House District 74 race.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The Florida Medical Association, a powerful doctors' lobby, funneled $300,000 this month into a political committee that has run attack ads in at least one closely contested legislative race, according to campaign-finance reports. The Florida Medical Association Political Action Committee contributed the money July 14 to another committee known as the "Better Florida Fund Corp."
HNF Stories
10:26 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Florida Matters: Sexual Assaults on College Campuses (LISTEN)

WUSF's Craig Kopp with Aaron Hubbard, Assistant State Attorney with the sex crimes division for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Hillsborough County (left), and Sabrina Griffith, the Associate Director of Residential Communities and Residence Life at the University of Tampa.

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 1:11 am

 A report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault says universities are not providing all the resources they can to protect students from sexual violence. Dozens of schools are under investigation for how they have handled sexual assault cases. 

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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

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