Mary Shedden

Health News Florida Editor

Mary Shedden is editor of Health News Florida. Her assignment since arriving at WUSF in 2013: distill policy and science so it makes sense on a personal level.

In the past 20 years, she's told the stories of retired pro athletes in chronic pain, children poisoned by toxic toys, and seniors who nearly overdosed on prescription drugs. 

Her work at The Tampa Tribune and TBO.com, Florida Today and the Gainesville Sun have been honored by professional organizations including the Society of Professional Journalists, Associated Press Sports Editors, and the Florida Society of News Editors.

A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Mary has lived in the Tampa Bay area since 1999.

Contact Mary at 813-974-8636 on Twitter @MaryShedden or by email

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HNF Stories
1:33 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Small Firms May Not Want to SHOP

Brooke and Andrew Lee, owners of Roundhouse Creative Studios in St. Petersburg, buy their own health insurance. They are interested in the costs for a small business plan that could include their one fulltime employee.
Mary Shedden/WUSF

Brooke and Andrew Lee can't imagine being without health insurance.

So for the past seven years, that's meant digging deep into the earnings of their video production agency in St. Petersburg. It’s expensive, but Brooke Lee says the alternative is worse.

“Even though costs are high, I’ve just always been somebody who has health care. And I would be really nervous… for the unknowns to happen, some major accident or health problem that would put us out of business and pretty much ruin everything we’ve worked so hard on if we didn’t have health insurance,” she said.

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HNF Stories
4:03 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

HHS Secretary Visits FL, Defends ACA

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell speaks with a woman enrolling for health insurance Monday at the University of South Florida enrollment event in Tampa.
WUSF

The nation's top health official says the ongoing legal dispute over the Affordable Care Act won't stop people who want insurance from signing up.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced it will consider a challenge to the law, which could eliminate subsidies for individuals who purchased plans in Florida and dozens of other states via the online marketplace known as HealthCare.gov.

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HNF Stories
5:39 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Here to Help You Navigate ACA Year 2

Credit Megan Milanese

Open enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace starts on Nov. 15. The Health News Florida team is kicking off a series about the second year of open enrollment under the federal health law.

First, we take a look at HealthCare.gov, the website that people in Florida and 36 other states use to buy a health insurance plan.  This year, open enrollment runs for three months, until Feb. 15, 2015.

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HNF Stories
8:35 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Time For a HealthCare.gov Test Drive

Credit HealthCare.gov

Floridians who buy their own insurance can start shopping for 2015 plans on the federal marketplace on Saturday, but a sneak peek of prices is available now.

HealthCare.gov -- the website for residents in Florida and 36 other states -- opened for window shoppers over the weekend. In Florida, 10 different companies offer plans.

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8:23 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Court Backs AHCA On Medicaid Payments

Lead in text: 
An appeals court says Florida Hospital Orlando should repay more than $22,000 in Medicaid payments it claimed in the care of a 3-year-old child with leukemia, the News Service of Florida reports. The judges said Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration was justified in requesting repayment in the case that centers around the state’s determination of whether care is a “medical necessity,” according to the News Service.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
An appeals court Thursday sided with the state Agency for Health Care Administration in a dispute about whether Florida Hospital Orlando was paid too much for treating some Medicaid patients. The agency in December issued an order requiring the hospital to repay $22,138 in Medicaid overpayments, along with a $500 fine and $7,635 in costs.
8:30 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Court Told Workers’ Comp Fees Are 'Crazy'

Lead in text: 
Florida’s Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of the way attorneys in workers-compensation cases are paid, the News Service of Florida reports. Attorneys who represented a South Florida man injured in 2009 told justices that the rules governing attorney fees are “crazy” and translate to less than $2 an hour for their work, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
In an issue watched closely by business, labor and trial-lawyer groups, the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday weighed the constitutionality of limits on attorneys' fees in workers-compensation insurance cases. Justices heard arguments in a case that stemmed from injuries suffered in 2009 by a South Florida man, Marvin Castellanos, during an altercation with another worker at their employer, Next Door Company.
HNF Stories
7:47 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Virtual Kiosks Take Care Outside Clinics

HealthSpot

There was a time when you got sick, you waited to see the family physician.

But then came the "Doc In A Box" clinics, where you went without an appointment, at night and on weekends. And it only got easier when mini-clinics began popping up in neighborhood pharmacies.

Well, these convenient medical visits are taking the next step. Clinic "kiosks" will soon be connecting Floridians and physicians via video screens and interactive tools.

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HNF Stories
12:11 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Crist Loses, Says There's 'Common Ground' on Medicaid Expansion

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 8:21 am

 Democratic challenger Charlie Crist has conceded the Florida election to incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

In St. Petersburg, Crist had little to say when he conceded the race just after 11 p.m. He thanked supporters and brought up just one specific issue debated during the caustic campaign: Medicaid expansion.

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9:03 am
Mon November 3, 2014

FL Has No Right to Inspect VAs: Feds

Lead in text: 
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration doesn’t have the Constitutional grounds to inspect VA facilities, the News Service of Florida reports. In response to an AHCA lawsuit asking to inspect VA hospitals, the feds cited the “Supremacy Clause,” which says the state doesn’t supercede the authority of the federal government. Inspectors sent by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration over the summer had been turned away at Florida VA hospitals, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has fired back at Gov. Rick Scott's administration in a legal battle about whether state health officials should be able to inspect VA medical centers. Attorneys for the federal agency filed a document last week arguing that a lawsuit launched by the state Agency for Health Care Administration should be dismissed on constitutional grounds.
9:18 am
Thu October 30, 2014

State: Consider Managed Care in Lawsuit

Lead in text: 
State agencies wanting to introduce new evidence into a nine-year-old fight over Florida Medicaid is being criticized by children’s advocates, the News Service of Florida reports. The lawsuit led by the Florida Pediatric Society claims the state does not provide adequate care for kids in the Medicaid program. The Agency for Health Care Administration and Florida Department of Health filed documents asking that the state’s new managed care system should be considered, according to the News Service.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
With a federal judge possibly close to ruling in the case, plaintiffs' attorneys are objecting to a state attempt to offer new evidence in a lawsuit about whether Florida has adequately provided care to children in the Medicaid program. The lawsuit, which has been spearheaded by the Florida Pediatric Society, was filed in 2005.
HNF Stories
12:32 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Most FL Plans Shine in Star Ratings

Credit U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Just a handful of Florida Medicare Advantage plans offered for 2015 received below average scores in a federal quality rating system, a breakdown of data by Avalere Health shows.

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HNF Stories
9:02 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Watching Health News, for You

For years, Health News Florida has been sharing the state’s top health news with you, via our daily eAlert. We wake up early every day, keeping tabs on the latest developments on stories from Miami to Marianna, and Tallahassee to Tampa.

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7:57 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Prisons Chief: Changes Will Take Time

Lead in text: 
Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews says “it's unfair that the agency as a whole is painted under the same umbrella of all being corrupt and non-transparent,” the News Service of Florida reports. In a long interview on his leadership, Crews explains that it will take time to change a culture of fear and intimidation that’s led to the investigation of 100 suspicious inmate deaths, according to News Service.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Gov. Rick Scott tapped Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews two years ago to oversee an agency that is responsible for more than 100,000 prisoners and supervises nearly as many people in the community. Crews, who has a bachelor's degree in criminology from Florida State University, started his law-enforcement career 30 years ago as a correctional officer at Apalachee Correctional Institution.
HNF Stories
12:50 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Key to Pot Vote: Turnout, Not Political Party

AP

Need an example of how incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, are trying to attract every possible vote?

Ask them about medical marijuana. Neither candidate avoids the issue. But they do play it safe.

  “I’m going to vote against it. But it’s going to be on the ballot. All the citizens of the state have the right to vote whichever way they think,” Scott told Tampa’s Fox 13 News this past June.

And there’s Crist, no stranger to the well-rehearsed reply.

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2:18 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Medical Malpractice Ruling Backs Doctors

Lead in text: 
A ruling on the ongoing challenge to Florida's medical malpractice law is a win for groups such as the Florida Medical Association, Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida reports. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Friday says changes made in 2013 to the "ex parte communications" portion of the law does not violate patient privacy, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
A federal appeals court Friday upheld part of a controversial Florida medical-malpractice law, saying it does not violate requirements aimed at protecting patient privacy. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a ruling last year by a Tallahassee federal judge.
8:35 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Hospital Lawsuit's Legal-Fee Issues Persist

Lead in text: 
A legislative decision to order Lee Memorial Health System to pay $15 million to a severely disabled boy's family continues to be challenged by the child's attorney, the News Service of Florida reports. Legislators in 2012 passed a bill revoking the Southwest Florida public hospital sovereign immunity in this case, but said attorney's couldn't receive more than $100,000. That issue will be debated on Oct. 28, before the 4th District Court of Appeals, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
An appeals court this month will weigh the constitutionality of a 2012 legislative decision that limited fees for attorneys who represented a severely disabled child in a lawsuit against a public hospital system.
HNF Stories
12:00 am
Wed October 8, 2014

PUP Owners Want $500M from Accountants

Dr. Sandeep Bajaj
Credit Florida Accountable Care Services

The majority owners of a now-defunct Medicare Advantage plan say they were duped by the plan’s accountants, the ones they claim are responsible for the company’s collapse, a new federal lawsuit filed in Orlando says.

Dr. Sandeep Bajaj and Dr. Rohini Bajaj claim the national accounting firm McGladrey LLP is responsible for the financial ruin and liquidation of Physicians United Plan Inc., which had served about 50,000 Floridians until the state took over its operations this summer.

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8:12 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Elder Ombudsman Settles Lawsuit

Lead in text: 
The former ombudsman for Florida's long term care community has settled a lawsuit against the state's Department of Elder Affairs, the News Service of Florida reports. Brian Lee, a vocal advocate of resident's rights, had been on the job seven years when he was dismissed in 2011, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
A "whistleblower" lawsuit by the state's former long-term care ombudsman was settled last week through mediation. Brian Lee, who held the ombudsman post for seven years before his February 2011 ouster, will receive $25,000, less payroll taxes and other deductions, from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, according to a copy of the settlement.
HNF Stories
9:33 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Halifax Whistleblower, Friends Were Shunned

When Elin Baklid-Kunz was concerned about the way her bosses at Halifax Health were doing business, she got help from a federal law designed to protect whistleblowers around since the Civil War.

"The False Claims Act seemed to be the only tool I had to report this to the government," said Baklid Kunz, a veteran compliance officer at the hospital who first filed the lawsuit in 2009.

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HNF Stories
4:41 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Seniors Tackle Diabetes Before Diagnosis

Seven graduates of the St. Petersburg YMCA Diabetes Prevention program and their Instructor Lois Huyghue
Mary Shedden

It’s graduation day at the St. Petersburg YMCA, and Ruth Neal and her classmates are taking a victory lap.

The past 16 weeks, they've talked nonstop about counting fat grams, portion control and the value of being active 150 minutes a week.

“I’m going to stick with it, because I want to be as blessed as my mother was. One hundred and six years old when she passed. I want to be just as blessed,” the 71-year-old from St. Petersburg said of her newfound weight loss and exercise routine.

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HNF Stories
4:59 am
Tue September 30, 2014

Tougher Compounding Rules Finally Law

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Stricter regulations in the state’s compounding pharmacy industry take effect Wednesday -- two years after a national outbreak of fungal meningitis killed 64 people, including seven in Florida.

In 2012, when the New England Compounding Center outbreak happened, the state had hundreds of unregulated, non-resident facilities providing these specialized medications to Floridians. Now, the state will require permits for any pharmacies outside state boundaries that want to ship medications in state.

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8:36 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Prison Health Provider Told It's Failing

Lead in text: 
The winner of a $1.2 billion contract to provide health care to Florida’s prison inmates is being accused of failing to treat patients properly, the News Service of Florida reports. The Department of Corrections says the Missouri-based company Corizon must fix 80 percent of the problems identified in recent audits, or payment will be withheld, according to the News Service.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews is threatening to stop payments to a Missouri-based company that won a five-year, $1.2 billion contract to provide health care to the majority of the state's prisoners, accusing Corizon of failing to provide adequate treatment.
HNF Stories
4:11 am
Thu September 25, 2014

Consumer Savvy Critical To Health

Dr. Lisa Schwartz and Dr. Steven Woloshin of the Dartmouth Institute Center for Medicine and the Media.
Credit Dartmouth College

Spend a lot of time investigating before make a big purchase? Most of us do.

But that's not always the case when it comes to medical treatments or drugs.

Dr. Steven Woloshin and Dr. Lisa Schwartz have been researching the misleading medical and pharmaceutical messages in advertisements and other media for years.

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HNF Stories
1:06 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

HCA Closing St. Petersburg Hospital

For the first time since 2012, a hospital in Florida is closing its doors.

HCA West Florida announced Tuesday the 38-year-old Edward White Hospital in St. Petersburg will close by the end of November and consolidate services to three nearby hospitals it also owns.

Officials said operating costs at the aging facility continued to grow. And it pointed to a glut of hospital beds in the area: more than 1,000 in southern Pinellas County alone.

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8:26 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Dispute Over Severely Disabled in Foster Care

Lead in text: 
Florida’s revised foster care law is creating confusion over the care of severely disabled young adults in the system, the News Service of Florida reports. Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice , hopes to draft a bill clarifying who should pay and provide services for disabled people, ages 18 to 22: either the Agency for Persons with Disabilities or the Department of Children and Families, the News Service reports.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
The sponsor of Florida's 2013 law extending foster care to age 21 is working on a legislative fix to resolve confusion about which state agency is responsible for severely disabled young adults in the program. Sen.
HNF Stories
6:44 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Millennials: Tech Not Only Health Solution

GuideWell is testing an interactive bathroom mirror, which provides regular health updates and reminders each morning.
Mary Shedden WUSF

There are a lot of stereotypes out there about the millennial generation: they’re disengaged and hyper-focused on technology.

But someday, these 80 million Americans born between 1980 and 1999, will be needing health care. And a lot of it.

That's why the second MediFuture conference this week in Tampa asked a panel of college students for some insight. While the five men and one woman say they may not be using the health care system much now, it's important medicine doesn't assume that technology is all they care about.

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HNF Stories
10:18 am
Thu September 18, 2014

CEO: GuideWell, Not FL Blue, Our Focus

GuideWell Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Pat Geraghty
Credit Kaiser Health News

Any doubt that Florida’s largest health insurer wants to expand its reach was quashed by its chief executive Wednesday, when he heralded the success of its new umbrella company and outlined ambitious plans for growth.

GuideWell, launched as a parent of Florida Blue, reaches more than 15 million people through its insurance, consumer, health care and government administration products, Chairman and CEO Pat Geraghty told participants at the Medifuture conference in Tampa.

Less than half are traditional Florida Blue policy holders.

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8:25 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Charlotte’s Web Legal Challenges Grow

Lead in text: 
Attempts to provide a specialized form of medical marijuana in Florida continue to be slowed by legal challenges, the News Service of Florida reports. The Florida Medical Cannabis Association joins two nurseries in saying the Department of Health has improperly created rules to allow the strain called “Charlotte’s Web” to be grown and provided to patients in the Sunshine State, according to the News Service.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
A trade association Wednesday challenged the Florida Department of Health's plan for carrying out a new medical-marijuana law, adding to two challenges filed earlier in the week. The Florida Medical Cannabis Association is asking an administrative law judge to reject a department rule unveiled this month.
HNF Stories
1:00 am
Fri September 12, 2014

‘Trailblazing’ Health Journalist Honored

Health News Florida Editor Carol Gentry
Lottie Watts

The Florida Nurses Association is recognizing Health News Florida founder and Editor Carol Gentry for her significant and ongoing role in reporting on the state’s most important health issues.

The 2014 Communications/Media Award is being awarded to Gentry, who for four decades has been reporting on health policy and business, and has been holding industry and government officials accountable.

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9:25 am
Mon September 8, 2014

DOH Pot Rule Faces Likely Delay

Lead in text: 
The Florida Department of Health’s plan for the new “low-THC” medical marijuana industry is likely to be delayed as it deviates too much from what lawmakers intended, the News Service of Florida reports. The DOH’s Office of Compassionate Use was assigned to set up regulations for the industry and has held multiple public hearings. But, as the News Service reports, the proposed framework has been criticized by the Legislature's Joint Administrative Procedures Committee.
  • Source: Usf
  • | Via: News Service of Florida
Health regulators will almost certainly delay a rule that will eventually create the framework for the state's new medical marijuana industry after an outcry from a legislative panel saying the proposed regulation went too far.

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