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

Ways To Connect

U.S. Army

Baby boomers dominate the nation’s population.

But analysts watching the health care economy say it’s the youngest health care consumers who are shaping the future health care economy.

PwC's Health Research Institute is in its 10th year of evaluating the nation’s health care economy. Lindsey Jarrell, a PwC partner based in Tampa, says health care companies need to pay close attention to trends involving millennials, those Americans born between 1981 and 1997.

ProPublica.org

An investigation into doctors performing common elective surgeries is placing the spotlight on a Citrus County physician and hospital.

The non-profit news organization ProPublica sorted 2.3 million low-risk procedures on Medicare patients - from hip and knee replacements to back surgery. It published its Surgeon Scorecard on eight different procedures on Tuesday.

U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court decision on health subsidies keeps intact the way more than 1 million Floridians buy and pay for insurance through HealthCare.gov.

People like Phil Ammann. After nearly a decade without insurance, the St. Petersburg resident on Thursday was thrilled by the news. A $300 subsidy means he pays just $93 a month for coverage.

USF Health

Thirty years ago, a HIV-positive diagnosis was a death sentence, and gay men and IV-drug users were most likely to get infected.

Today, the demographics of infection have changed a lot, and advancements in drug treatment that make HIV a "chronic disease" have created a new set of problems.

WUSF’s Florida Matters is sharing stories from the Health New Florida series HIV in Florida: The Rising Tide of Infection.  

commons.wikimedia.org

Covenant Hospice Inc., a non-profit hospice care provider in Southern Alabama and Northwest Florida, will pay more than $10.1 million to the government for overbilling of Medicare, Tricare and Medicaid for hospice services, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

Everyone thinks HIV happens to someone else.

It only infects men who are having sex with men, they say. Or HIV drug users.

And while that still accounts for about half of all people infected, those who are being diagnosed with this serious sexually transmitted disease don’t fall into simple categories. They’re young and old, straight, gay and transgender, of every race.

All Children's Hospital

It was 1964. The New York World's Fair.

And a young Tony Napolitano saw his first video phone at the Bell Telephone pavilion. The boy marveled that people could connect visually from remote locations.

Fast forward to 2015. Napolitano, now a pediatric neonatologist, is about to make this connection an ordinary part of practicing medicine at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

U.S. Supreme Court

A U.S. Supreme Court decision expected this summer could quickly change how Floridians with insurance through HealthCare.gov pay for coverage.

Arguments being held in the case of King v. Burwell this week will decide whether low- and moderate-income Floridians and residents in 36 other states can get tax credits for plans they buy through the federal government.

The impact of the ruling could be seen within 30 to 60 days of a decision, said Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia.

Aging Nation Tested By Health, Finances

Feb 19, 2015
Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Social Security is turning 80 this year. 

And Medicare is hitting the big 5-0. 

These aging government programs - and the challenges brought on by the enormous Baby Boomer generation - underscored Thursday's discussions at the first of five White House Conference on Aging regional gatherings. 

National Cancer Institute

The number of doctors practicing psychiatry and general surgery is expected to reach critically low levels in the next 10 years, according to a new study from the state’s teaching hospitals.

Credit Daylina Miller / WUSF News

Tanya Villanueva Tepper was thinking wedding plans -- not widowhood -- the morning of September 11, 2001.

Her fiancé, a New York City firefighter, was among the thousands killed when the Twin Towers were attacked. She was forced to learn how to live every day without her Sergio.

Valentine’s Day, she said, was especially painful. Reminders to buy roses, chocolates or jewelry for that special someone were everywhere. And for those whose spouses and partners have died, all that commercialized romance just plain hurts.

Brian Blanco

Jamie Harden knows firsthand how Florida Legislative leaders feel about Medicaid expansion.  

Last year, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce asked him to join BayCare Health System President Steve Mason at a meeting with legislators and lobby to expand the state’s health insurance program for the poor.

Harden, a Tampa sign company president, said it didn’t go well.

Brian Blanco

Florida's Legislature has twice turned down proposals to provide health insurance for nearly 1 million state residents.  And the new House Speaker on Wednesday said he had “no plans” to expand Medicaid for the people caught in the so-called coverage gap.

But still state business leaders – and some mayors – continue to rally and aim to take another swing at it when the Legislature convenes March 3.

Florida’s Legislature may consider revamping the state’s Baker Act law that oversees the involuntary commitment of people thought to be a danger to themselves or others, the News Service of Florida reports. Bills filed in both the House and Senate would look at the amount of time individuals are screened, and may consider using remote, telemedicine consultations to evaluate patients, the News Service reports.

The Agency for Health Care Administration will close field offices in West Palm Beach, Alachua and Panama City this summer, as part of the department's increased use of managed care, the News Service of Florida reports. It joins shuttered offices in Tallahassee and Ocala, which closed last year, according to the News Service.

Plans to cut $4.2 million from this year's Early Steps budget were put on hold Friday by the Department of Health, the News Service of Florida reports. Department officials told a House subcommittee last week that federal budget cuts were to blame, while some lawmakers said they heard the state's move to a third-party claims administrator was the real cause, the News Service reports. Also in Tallahassee last week, Gov. Rick Scott announced plans to invest $8 million for the state's Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Florida's Supreme Court is criticizing insurance agents and others trying to help families of nursing home residents apply for Medicaid assistance, the News Service of Florida reports. A Florida Bar committee asked the court to rule on what it calls an unlicensed practice of law, while critics say the Bar is too broadly defining the role of Medicaid planners, the News Service reports.

The ongoing debate over Florida's limited-use medical marijuana law lurched forward with the naming of a rules-making committee of growers and other interested parties, the News Service of Florida reports. Five growers, state officials and a Colorado-based medical marijuana are among the participants on the 12-person panel.

Taber Andrew Bain, via Flickr Creative Commons

Florida’s safety-net hospitals stand to lose 15 percent of the money it receives from Medicaid next year, if state and federal officials don’t renew an agreement to cover care for poor state residents.

Florida Legislative committees next week will discuss bills to allow firearms on college campuses, and hear an update on how new child welfare reforms are being implemented, the News Service of Florida reports. The gun bill is similar to one that failed to pass in 2011.

Mary Shedden / Health News Florida

Members of a Tampa-based nurses’ union on Tuesday rallied against the physical and emotional abuse they say is an all-too-common occupational hazard.

The U.S. Department of Labor says that in 2010, more than 11,000 health care and social workers were the victims of workplace violence. Louise Eastty, an intensive care unit nurse for 15 years, said she’s seen co-workers attacked physically by patients, and has been verbally abused countless times.

New language about how doctors would prescribe medical marijuana is part of a new constitutional amendment filed Thursday by Orlando attorney John Morgan, the News Service of Florida reports. The 2016 proposed amendment clarifies that doctors must get a parent's permission before prescribing medical marijuana to a child. There's also a more specific list of diseases that would qualify for the alternative form of treatment, according to the News Service.

A Senate health committee learned Wednesday that an independent review of the Low-Income Pool funding for poor and uninsured people should be submitted by next week, the News Service of Florida reports. Federal officials required an independent study of possible changes in the program, which provides the state $1 Billion a year, but is set to expire June 30, according to the News Service.

Florida's Medicaid managed care system in theory should pay doctors more for services, but "on the ground,'' the program insuring poor children still isn't working, physician Louis St. Petery told a Senate committee, the News Service of Florida reports. He disputed state officials who say the changes they've made erase problems brought up in a lingering, decade-old lawsuit over pediatric care, according to the News Service.

Black and Hispanic Floridians are signing up for insurance on HealthCare.gov in big numbers.

Since enrollment for 2015 coverage began Nov. 15, more than 673,000 state residents have signed up on the federal marketplace. And the leader of the state's largest effort to recruit and assist people in enrollment said Thursday that 30 percent of the people they've helped so far are Hispanic. Another 25 percent are African American.

Florida’s attempt to reign in personal-injury protection insurance fraud is having some impact, the News Service of Florida reports. A review from the Office for Insurance Regulation says fewer claims and financial requests have been made since the 2012 law was enacted. However, claims through other forms of insurance have increased, according to the News Service.

Anthem Inc. will take over South Florida's Simply Healthcare Holdings, which manages polices for about 170,000 people with Medicaid and 22,000 people in Medicare, the News Service of Florida reports.

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities is attempting to recalculate how money is spent on services for disabled adults, and late last month received feedback from about 100 advocates, service providers and support coordinators, the News Service of Florida reports.

Gov. Rick Scott's lawyer is arguing strenuously against cutting short a lawsuit over the drug testing of state employees, the News Service of Florida reports. Attorney Thomas Bishop wrote late last month that the challenge involving the American Civil Liberties Union attempts to side-step previous court orders.

Mary Shedden / Health News Florida

Florida is about to increase the age requirement for children riding in car seats.

As of Thursday, the law requires five-point restraints until a child's sixth birthday. That's two years more that kids need to wait before moving into a booster seat.

Petra Vybiralova  is a program supervisor at the Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition. She says the law may help lower the number of deaths and injuries.

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