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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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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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

Read more
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. 

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more

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