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
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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HNF Stories
11:37 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Medicare Open Enrollment Under Way

Kathy Winans is the regional vice president for UnitedHealthcare.
Credit Lottie Watts / WUSF

Open enrollment for people who have Medicare plans started this week. It's the time when all people with Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older and the disabled, can change their private Medicare Advantage plan or prescription-drug coverage.

Health News Florida's Lottie Watts talked with Kathy Winans, the regional vice president for United Health Care Medicare plans, about this year's open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. 

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HNF Stories
11:59 am
Thu October 10, 2013

HealthCare.gov: Waiting, Hoping

Maggie Banta has been trying to log on to HealthCare.gov for days.
Lottie Watts WUSF

Florida's online health insurance Marketplace has been open for business since Oct. 1. But more than a week later, people are still having trouble with HealthCare.gov, the website consumers use to shop for health plans. 

Maggie Banta of St. Petersburg is one of millions of visitors to the site since it opened for business a little more than a week ago. She’s been trying to log on for days, but like many others, she can’t.

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HNF Stories
10:49 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Florida Matters: Medical Marijuana

John Sajo

This week on Florida Matters, WUSF’s Carson Cooper hosted a discussion on medical marijuana. 

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Florida Matters
11:54 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Florida Matters Preview: Medical Marijuana

Credit John Sajo

A group called United for Care is behind the push to get a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana on the 2014 Florida ballot. The group is chaired by Orlando attorney John Morgan, founder of the law firm Morgan & Morgan, who is bankrolling the campaign. 

This week on Florida Matters, WUSF’s Carson Cooper hosts a discussion on medical marijuana in Florida.

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HNF Stories
11:17 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Many Still Don't Know About Marketplace

Maggie Banta said she plans to visit HealthCare.gov to research different health insurance plans that she will be able to buy on the new Marketplace.
Credit Lottie Watts / WUSF

Starting Oct. 1, millions of uninsured people around the country are going to have a new place to shop for health insurance, but many still don’t know about this provision of the Affordable Care Act. 

Take Maggie Banta, a St. Petersburg woman who works a part-time job that doesn’t offer insurance. She is likely to find affordable coverage on the Marketplace, but she said she didn’t even know that was an option.

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HNF Stories
6:41 am
Thu September 19, 2013

FL Lawmakers Clash in Capitol Hill Testimony

At right is state Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples. Second from right is state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood. The lawmakers testified during a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Two Florida lawmakers were in Washington, D.C. Wednesday morning to share their perspective on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  

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HNF Stories
5:02 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Business Leaders Push for Medicaid Expansion

Speakers and attendees at a news conference organized by the League of Women Voters of Florida on Tuesday, Sept. 17 in Tampa.
Credit Rolla Al-Abbasi / WUSF

Businesses and healthcare industry leaders on Tuesday publicly urged Florida lawmakers to use billions of dollars in federal funds to provide health coverage for about 1 million low-income adults in the state. 

Convincing state lawmakers to reconsider Medicaid expansion is a top priority for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, said its president and CEO Bob Rohrlack at a news conference organized by the League of Women Voters of Florida. Rohrlack said the federal money would have a huge impact on the economy. 

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Health News Florida
6:40 am
Thu September 12, 2013

'Champion of Change' Is Pacesetter for Prevention (VIDEO, AUDIO)

Myriam Escobar

Earlier this week, an outreach worker from Moffitt Cancer Center was invited to speak at the White House. The Obama Administration was so impressed with Myriam Escobar's work that they honored her as a 

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HNF Stories
3:10 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Moffitt Outreach Worker Honored at White House

Myriam Escobar

A community outreach worker from Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center was honored this morning as a  "Champion of Change" by the Obama Administration.

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HNF Stories
6:33 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Moffitt Outreach Worker to Get Presidential Honor

Myriam Escobar

A community outreach worker from Moffitt Cancer Center will be honored Tuesday morning by the Obama Administration in Washington, D.C.  for improving public health in Tampa Bay's Hispanic community. 

Myriam Escobar is one of eight people who will be recognized as a "Champion of Change" at the White House ceremony. The White House website will have a live stream at 10 a.m. 

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HNF Stories
11:32 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Efforts to Reduce Childhood Obesity Working (VIDEO)

From Cover of 'A Community Call to Action to Address Childhood Obesity in Sulphur Springs.'
Tampa Metropolitan YMCA

For the first time in a long time, Florida's children aren't getting heavier.

The Centers for Disease Control credits the drop, at least in part, to First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign. 

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HNF Stories
10:21 am
Mon August 26, 2013

MRSA Infections Common: CDC

Credit NIAID / Flickr

Two Tampa Bay Buccaneers football players are fighting MRSA infections, a type of staph infection that's resistant to some antibiotics. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, athletic facilities are especially risky for MRSA infections, given the close physical contact and the likelihood of cuts and scrapes during practices. 

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HNF Stories
11:26 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Why Are 'Navigators' Needed for Obamacare?

Gerry Skinner
Credit Lottie Watts / WUSF

When the new online health insurance marketplace opens Oct. 1, millions of people will be able to buy insurance at the click of a mouse. The federal government has a website and a hotline people can call for help. But they'll also have people who can help face-to-face. They're called "navigators."

During a stop at the USF Tampa campus last week, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said "navigators" will assist many people who have never been enrolled in a health plan before. 

"Navigators" are the counselors who are supposed to help people understand their insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. Lottie Watts with Health News Florida explains who they are and what their job will be.

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