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. 

Ways to Connect

Real prices for health care are complicated and oftentimes secret. Health News Florida, WUSF and WLRN have launched an online guide to bring clarity to health care costs. PriceCheck Florida is a database of prices of common health care procedures and supplies.

You can search the database, and you can contribute information about the prices you paid.  

This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 1 at 7:30 a.m.), we sit down with project founder Jeanne Pinder and Health News Florida reporter Sammy Mack to talk about how the database works and why it’s needed. We also feature a discussion on the impact of health care costs on employer-based insurance.

Across the country and in Florida, most say their health care is a good value, according to a national poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"But then again, when you look more in depth, what you see is a third of Floridians said that their health care became less affordable over the last two years,” said Harvard professor and study co-director Robert Blendon.


Floridians gave high marks to their hospital stays, but low marks to care in emergency rooms, according to a national poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"The highest share of excellence, the top of the chart, were for people who were hospitalized,” said Harvard professor and study co-director Robert Blendon. 

Associated Press

A new poll shows that Floridians are divided about how their health care has changed in the two years since much of the Affordable Care Act has gone into effect.

By contrast, nationwide, a majority said their personal health care has pretty much stayed the same in the past two years, according to the national poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Rhea Chiles, the widow of former governor Lawton Chiles, died last November in her home on Anna Maria Island,  at the age of 84. She dedicated her life to improving the lives of children in Florida.

The University of South Florida’s College of Public Health recently held a symposium to honor the legacy of Rhea Chiles' work. This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, March 1 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 6 at 7:30 a.m.) we bring you highlights of the discussion.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Central Florida has gotten its first confirmed case of the travel-related Zika virus. Osceola County is one of seven Florida counties with CDC-confirmed cases. 

Florida Ends Enrollment With 1.7M Sign Ups

Feb 8, 2016

About 12.7 million Americans enrolled in private health insurance through the federal and state marketplaces for 2016, the Obama administration said Thursday.

Florida is leading the nation once again in enrollment, with 1,742,819 new and returning customers on HealthCare.gov.

Lottie Watts/WUSF / WUSF

Gov. Rick Scott added a fifth Florida county to a public health emergency declaration over the Zika virus on Thursday, and asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for training and other assistance.

Broward joins Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa counties as where cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been found. All of the cases are travel related.

Rachel S. O'Hara / Sarasota Herald-Tribune

As a mother, Anya Staton says her primary instinct is to feed her children.

So when her oldest son developed an eating disorder she knew he needed help -- help she didn't know how to give. 

And care the family's insurance company, through Florida's Medicaid program, denied the boy needed.

Jan. 15 is the last day to sign up on HealthCare.gov for a plan that starts Feb. 1.  The deadline is key for avoiding tax penalties under the federal health law.

Florida's annual legislative session gets under way today. WUSF News will bring you live coverage of the governor's State of the State address starting today at 11 a.m. This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 17 7:30 a.m.), we will feature highlights of the address, along with the Democratic response.  

Lottie Watts / WUSF

In previous legislative sessions, lawmakers have failed to make changes to the state employee group insurance. The issue is expected to come up again this session.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

The latest numbers from federal health officials show Florida is continuing to lead in enrollment on HealthCare.gov, with nearly 600,000 who have signed up so far.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Florida is once again leading in enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace, and that success has caught the attention of HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan. 

The third year of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is now under way, and this week on Florida Matters (Sunday, Nov. 22 at 6:30 p.m.),  WUSF's Carson Cooper takes a look at some of the changes coming for health insurance in 2016 with Florida Covering Kids & Families Project Director Jodi Ray, Tampa health insurance agent Eric Brown and WUSF News Director and Health News Florida Editor Mary Shedden.

Enrollment is under way for plans on HealthCare.gov for the third year, and consumers are seeing many changes in the plans companies are offering. It’s not unlike what’s happening to employer-based insurance, which is how about half of all Americans get health care coverage.


For much of this year, Sara Goodrich of Lakeland has gone without health insurance -- despite trying over and over again to complete enrollment on HealthCare.gov.

“For the last six months, all of the agents have been telling me something else is the issue. Resubmit here, there's an address error, it's your birthday, for some reason, that would affect my application, and I just said, I am trying to follow the rules here, and you guys aren't helping,’” she said. 

Florida is on pace to have nearly as many child deaths this year as it did before the overhaul of its child welfare system last year. In about a quarter of those deaths, the Florida Department of Children and Families had prior contact with the family. 


Open enrollment on HealthCare.gov started Sunday, and federal health officials expect the third year of open enrollment to be more challenging than in previous years.

You can be a part of our audience for a special Florida Matters town hall featuring a panel discussion and preview of the new Ric Burns film “Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History.”

Lottie Watts / WUSF

It's open enrollment time for many people who have health insurance through their job, and Florida’s state employees are among those who are thinking about making changes to their plans.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Manatee County, on Florida's west coast, is home to more than 300,000 people.  It's known for its beaches, and if you go just a short distance inland, you'll pass by the iconic fruit stands and working citrus groves.

Heroin overdoses are rising most everywhere, but perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in Manatee County.

In 2013, Florida had more new cases of HIV than anywhere else in the nation. When it comes to the presence of HIV in Florida, the state’s six largest metropolitan areas could be states unto themselves.


In July 2015, emergency responders in Manatee County handled more than 200 heroin overdose calls. And the repeat overdose calls alone are nearly three times what the overall total was for July 2014.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Consider this past weekend a dry run -- in spite of all the rain – for tropical storm and hurricane preparation.  Tropical Storm Erika never made it to Florida, but emergency officials spent much of last week urging people to get ready. 

Lottie Watts / WUSF

County health departments have been testing beach water quality since 2000, and issuing advisories when bacteria levels get too high.

The National Weather Service, as well as rain-weary residents, continue to keep a cautious eye on numerous rivers around West Central Florida.

With more thunderstorms possible the rest of the week, officials are closely monitoring the Alafia River and the Little Manatee River in Hillsborough County and Cypress Creek and the Withlacoochee River in Pasco County.

Planned Parenthood Seeks Injunction After Abortion Allegations

Aug 17, 2015
Lottie Watts / WUSF

Planned Parenthood fired back Monday against allegations that three Florida abortion clinics provided second-trimester abortions without proper licenses, seeking an emergency injunction against the state Agency for Health Care Administration "to protect women's access to safe, legal abortion."

You can join us and be a part of our audience for a special Florida Matters town hall on the rising tide of HIV infection in Florida.