Mary Shedden

News Director

Mary Shedden is news director at WUSF.

Since arriving at WUSF in 2013, she has worked as a reporter and as editor of the Health News Florida journalism collaborative.

In the past 20 years, Shedden has 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, Shedden has lived in the Tampa Bay area since 1999.

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

Ways to Connect

Florida’s Department of Financial Services on Friday asked a judge to allow a takeover of the troubled Physicians United Medicare Advantage HMO.

The DFS filed a petition in Leon County Circuit Court to place the Orlando-based plan into receivership because it is insolvent. The company’s May financial statement reported assets of $92.4 million, while liabilities amounted to $105.3 million.

Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt Cancer Center, which began assembling a database of cancer patient tissue and clinical information a decade ago, is going national.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center on Wednesday was named the first partner in the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network, or ORIEN.

Moffitt’s for-profit subsidiary, M2Gen, will oversee the database’s operations. It already contains information on more than 105,000 patients.

Adriana DeJesus

Adriana DeJesus doesn't remember getting a letter.

Her kids - 6-year-old Angel, and son, Christian – have been covered by Medicaid plans since birth. Her son’s asthma and ADHD keep her regularly connected to his doctors and make her diligent about understanding his health coverage.

But the St.Petersburg daycare worker says she missed seeing a notice that Florida is moving 3.5 million residents in its medical insurance program for the poor to a new managed care system.

Trauma Hearing on Hold

May 16, 2014
Ocala Health

A dispute revolving around the trauma center at Ocala Regional Medical Center is postponed until a similar statewide quarrel can be settled, the News Service of Florida reports.

All sides involved in the legal challenge agreed to postpone the hearing so they can see what another administrative appeals court has to say involving the Florida Department of Health's rule for approving new trauma centers. 

FL Docs Make Pricey Medicare Claims

May 16, 2014

When Medicare patients come in for an office visit, the doctor bills for that interaction on a scale of one to five.

A one is a relatively quick, simple office visit. A five is more complex and lengthy.

Oh, and that level five visit also pays more.

HHS.gov

Fifty-seven people in Tampa and Miami were arrested Tuesday in a nationwide crackdown on Medicare fraud.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Medicare Fraud Strike Force made 90 arrests that included 27 doctors and other health care professionals. The schemes involved about $260 million in false billings, the agency said in a news release.

CDC-- Cynthia Goldsmith, Azaibi Tamin

A Saudi Arabian health care worker visiting family in Orlando is the nation’s second case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, commonly called MERS.

The 44-year-old man arrived at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital on May 8, eight days after traveling to Central Florida from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Tests confirmed the man contracted the respiratory illness known to spread in hospital settings , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said Monday.

Humana

Doctors may diagnose ailments, but for most of us, an insurance company steers our health care decisions.

We hear a medical opinion, and think, '"Is it covered? Can we afford it?"

These days, insurers are asking similar, bottom-line questions. The Affordable Care Act is changing the way they make money.

Mary Shedden / WUSF 89.7 News

 When Jamie Winn prepared to deliver, she didn't pack a bag or head to the hospital. She and husband Justin invited a midwife into their Temple Terrace home.

"My entire life, I had always assumed that when I did decide to have children, I would have a hospital birth. I never considered any alternative," she said.

CBS Miami

A plan to redistribute federal money among all of Florida’s hospitals will be delayed at least a year, legislators announced at a joint Health and Human Service budget conference committee meeting on Monday.

The so-called “tiering” plan would be a significant blow to the state’s 14 safety-net hospital systems, such as Miami’s Jackson Health System, which had been bracing for a $140 million cut to its budget, and the state’s two free-standing children’s hospitals, which were prepared to lose a combined $17.6 million.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Gerry Skinner has spent every day the past six months in non-stop promotion mode. She’s been getting the word out – in English, Spanish, even Arabic – about the need for Tampa area residents to sign up for health insurance.

Skinner, who manages certified application counselors at the Tampa Family Health Centers, said counselors will be working up to Monday’s deadline for Americans to start their applications: from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Monday, as well as at a Saturday family carnival at the Sheldon Road center.

A bill that would let nurse practitioners prescribe controlled substances and commit patients under the Baker Act narrowly passed the Senate Health Policy Committee on Tuesday.

Get Covered, America

With just 10 days left to enroll the uninsured for health coverage, the Healthcare.gov drumbeat is growing louder, more rapid.

President Obama is sprinkling health care into every conversation, even those about the NCAA basketball tournament. Celebrities are plastering photos of themselves on social media, holding signs saying “#GetCovered.”

And across Florida, enrollment navigators are pushing the in-person approach: blitzing college campuses, community centers, hospitals and clinics before the March 31 deadline.

Hospitals are questioning a bill that will cut reimbursements involving worker’s compensation, the News Service of Florida reports. 

Business groups, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, are rallying around the bill (HB 1351), saying it would save about $200 million a year. (Read more).

The latest hearing about rules overseeing Florida’s trauma centers could be delayed.

Mary Shedden/WUSF

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act continue to push Floridians to sign up for health insurance, and they’re using everything from college computer labs to community carnivals as their enrollment hotspots.

Through January, nearly 300,000 Floridians had signed up so far on the health insurance marketplace, and updated numbers could come next week. Navigators are pushing hard to get last-minute enrollees in before the March 31 deadline. So plan to see a lot of events the next three weeks, something like Thursday’s “Nav-Lab Enrollment Blowout” at the University of South Florida.

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.

Carol Gentry/WUSF

Ernestine Marshall's every move is being watched: morning, noon and night. 

Motion-activated sensors are everywhere in her Tampa apartment: on the toilet, the front door, even the kitchen cabinet where she stores medications help manage her multiple sclerosis.

It's been a year since the 60-year-old former teacher volunteered to let her health insurance company track her daily activities. If she oversleeps or if she’s up and down during the night, sensors around the house or those tucked into her bed trigger a check-in call from a Humana nurse.

For the second consecutive week, Florida’s Senate Health Policy Committee delayed voting on a comprehensive telemedicine bill.

Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said Tuesday that a last-minute amendment prompted the delay to redefine the telemedicine law first created in 2003. A few people spoke about telemedicine at the end of the meeting, but legislators deferred discussion to another meeting.

Critics of a legislative plan that would increase the authority of Florida’s nurse practitioners pushed back Monday, wondering if the massive bill would give nurses all the privileges now granted to more-educated and more-skilled physicians.

The plan -- which allows qualified nurse practitioners the ability to operate independently, without a physician’s supervision -- could be seen as a short-cut to those who want to treat patients but  don't want to go to medical school, said Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood.

Mary Shedden / WUSF

Milagros Medina rents a room in a quiet subdivision on the outskirts of Lakeland. At 68, her arthritis, high blood pressure and chronic back pain are not going away. 

And she doesn’t want to end up in a nursing home.

This retiree who likes being called Miss Millie tries to keep going by getting help with the chores most people take for granted. She says without financial help from Florida’s Medicaid program, she couldn’t afford it. And her health would suffer.

Florida House of Representatives

Efforts to expand who and how health care is provided remain hot topics for Florida business leaders and state legislative leaders.

Bills concerning telemedicine and the expansion of the state’s health care workforce stood front and center at the annual Florida Health Care Affordability Summit in Orlando. The event, sponsored by the Associated Industries of Florida Foundation, is proving to serve as a sort of legislative sneak peak concerning all things health care.

Mary Shedden / WUSF

Cancer hospitals vying to earn National Cancer Institute designation would get $60 million next year under a budget proposal being released by Florida Gov. Rick Scott today.

Scott, who is running for a second term as governor, made Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center the final stop of his “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” tour on Tuesday. Flanked by dozens of researchers, university leaders and politicians, he said the $60 million proposal can help cancer centers invest in the research needed to earn the prestigious title.

Mary Shedden

It's impossible to miss all the reminders that flu season is here, from ads at your local pharmacy to gentle reminders to cover up when you cough or sneeze.

But it’s not the only viral game in town. Young children and people who live with respiratory illness such as asthma face an equally potent bug every winter.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, is serious and highly contagious. And there’s no vaccination around to keep your little one from catching it.

The U.S. Department of Justice has signed on to eight false claims lawsuits against Health Management Associates, claiming the Naples-based hospital chain billed for unnecessary patient admissions and paid kickbacks to doctors who referred patients.

The government specifically alleges that former HMA executive Gary Newsome personally led the push to pressure emergency department physicians and hospital administrators to increase the number of inpatient admissions, “regardless of medical necessity,” the Department said in a statement.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nurse practitioners, who want more "autonomy," will tell a legislative committee Friday morning that granting it would benefit Floridians.

Primary-care physicians are in short supply, they'll say, so it's only sensible to make full use of nurses who have postgraduate training.

Physicians will tell the committee they agree on the need for new approaches to expand primary care. But the Florida Medical Association says "the best solution is physicians and nurses working collaboratively in a way that does not jeopardize patient safety."

A Kissimmee man who performed liposuction from a massage establishment was arrested Thursday on two counts of practicing medicine without a license.  Mariano Ugarriza Fuentes, a surgical assistant, was arrested by the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation for allegedly providing the services at Sculptural Orlando, a massage center with no medical license, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The deadline to buy health insurance for the New Year is approaching fast. 

If you’ve waited until now to start shopping on the federal health insurance exchange, know you may not have coverage starting Jan. 1, the official start date of the Affordable Care Act mandate. The deadline to buy policies for coverage effective Jan. 1 is Dec. 23.

But know all is not lost. You still can shop up through March before any penalties will be imposed for not meeting the new requirement that most Americans buy health insurance policies.

Shrinking public health budgets in Florida and other states are making it harder to protect and control potential infectious outbreaks, according to a new report.

Florida scored five of 10 possible points on the Trust for America’s Health report released this morning. Georgia, Nebraska and New Jersey received the lowest score: two out of 10. New Hampshire was the top scoring state, earning points for eight of the 10 criteria.

The Florida Medical Association is backing a Connecticut lawsuit challenging UnitedHealthcare's decision to cancel Medicare Advantage contracts.

The Association filed a brief late Wednesday supporting the Connecticut State Medical Society's attempt to block the insurance carrier from tearing up thousands of physician contracts. A judge had imposed a stay on United's cancellations, and United wants him to lift the stay so it can proceed.

Florida’s unprecedented transition to managed care for its most fragile Medicaid patients is working, but questions remain about its benefit down the road, according to a report from Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute released today.

About 40 different individuals involved in the early phases of shifting elderly and disabled Medicaid patients into managed care plans told researchers they are most concerned that more than a third of participants failed to select a plan. Those patients were automatically enrolled in a plan.

Pages