Abe Aboraya

Health News Florida Reporter

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.

Contact Abe at 407-273-2300 x 183 on Twitter @AbeAboraya or by email

WMFE

The fallout from sting videos targeting Planned Parenthood is growing in Florida. Gov. Rick Scott ordered the Agency for Health Care Administration to inspect the 16 Planned Parenthood clinics in Florida, and three of the clinics were cited for performing second trimester abortions when only licensed for first trimester abortions. Another was cited for not following procedures labeling fetal tissue.  Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya spoke with WMFE's All Things Considered host Crystal Chavez.

CRYSTAL: So where are these clinics that were cited?

WMFE

Brevard County government employees will still be able to get Health First Health Plans insurance. Today’s vote by county commissioners ends a controversy that’s been brewing since January.

With a unanimous vote and little fanfare, Brevard County Commissioners decided to keep getting health insurance from both Cigna and Health First Health Plans.

WMFE

Brevard County commissioners will vote today on which insurance company will provide health insurance to their employees. The vote is generating a public fight between competing hospitals.

In Brevard County, Health First dominates: They own the largest hospital system, physicians and outpatient center. They also own the for-profit insurance company Health First Health Plans.

County officials are voting on who will provide insurance to their 8,700 employees and family members.

Wikimedia Commons

The Florida Department of Health confirmed a case of the West Nile Virus, a mosquito-borne disease, in Volusia County Wednesday.

  Health officials are expecting more cases, and warn residents to get rid of standing water and wear protective clothing.

Most West Nile Virus infections are mild, but about one percent of cases can cause permanent neurological damage, paralysis and even death. There is no treatment or vaccine for the virus.

Florida had 69 cases of West Nile Virus in 2012.

WMFE

President Barack Obama is unveiling an updated national strategy Thursday to combat the HIV and AIDS epidemic that could have a big impact in Florida, which leads the nation in new HIV infections.

The White House unveiled the first national HIV plan in 2010, with ambitious, measurable goals: reduce new HIV diagnoses, increase the number of youth with an undetectable HIV viral load, and reduce the death rate from AIDS.

There’s been positive progress on all those, and there’s been a drop in the number of women, heterosexuals and IV-drug users contracting the disease.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Florida Department of Health is kicking off a series of events across the state where students can get immunizations needed for school – for free.

In the first of dozens of events statewide hosted by the Florida Department of Health offering free immunizations for students, the third floor of the Orange County School’s administration building was packed Tuesday with dozens of parents and students waiting patiently for their shot in the arm.

The Florida Department of Health has 90 days to decide which five nurseries will be allowed to grow low-THC medical marijuana in Florida. 

WMFE

It’s beach season, and a potentially deadly bacteria is making headlines. It’s called vibrio vulnificus.

So far, seven people have died from Vibrio this year, including one death each in Brevard and Lake counties. Florida so far has tied the 2014 deaths with six months left in the year.

WMFE

Winter Park Memorial Hospital hopes to start construction at the beginning of 2016 on a major expansion. The $90 million expansion would double the emergency room and add a five-story, 160-bed tower.

If all goes according to plan, the hospital would add 26 bays to its ER by the end of 2016 and open the new tower by the end of 2017. Hospital Administrator Ken Bradley says the hospital is looking to build now because the community is growing: In particular, senior citizens.

WMFE

A new Florida law kicking in today makes getting an HIV test easier. Doctors no longer need written consent to give patients an HIV test in health care settings, like doctor’s offices and hospitals.

The law could have a big impact in Florida, which has more new HIV infections than anywhere else in the country.

Jesse Fry is a policy analyst with the AIDS Institute in Tallahassee. He said an estimated 18,000 Floridians have HIV and don’t know they have the virus, according to the institute. 

Abe Aboraya / Health News Florida

Will Blair can describe his family in three words: southern, conservative, Baptist. 

“I’m kind of the black sheep,” he said.

Blair was 17 and living in rural Lake County when he came out as gay to the grandparents raising him.

Last year, at 32, he had to come out a second time: as HIV positive.

“It’s hard dealing with letting the people close to you know,” Blair said. “Because some people, even the ones close to you, even though they’re talking to you and you hear the words coming out their mouth, you know that behind what they’re saying is judgment.”

More than 100,000 Floridians depend on electrical power to keep life-saving medical devices running, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The interactive map released Tuesday shows that nationwide, 1.6 million Medicare patients need power for medical devices.

WMFE

Gov. Rick Scott vetoed nearly $57 million from the state’s Health and Human Services budget Tuesday, including $9.25 million for biomedical research.

Scott’s red pen cut $3 million earmarked for the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in Orlando's Lake Nona. Sanford-Burnham officials said the money was to fund the Florida Translational Research Program for another year.

Abe Aboraya / Health News Florida

Each year in Jacksonville, a nonprofit called JASMYN hosts a prom for LGBT youth.

Kourtnee Armanii Davinnie was crowned this year’s prom queen. She’s scared of horses, but loves unicorns. And she sometimes snaps when she talks.

Davinnie holds up a selfie taken in one of her multiple prom dresses.

“I had a couple outfit changes,” Davinnie said. “My performance outift, my walk-around, my entrance outfit, I have to be on point for prom. That’s just one of those things for a showgirl.”

WMFE

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed 13 relief bills into law yesterday. The bills allows governments to pay victims above a $200,000 cap.

In total, the 13 bills allow local governments to pay settlements totaling more than $12.5 million to families who have suffered losses from the government. In most cases, juries have already awarded settlements, but governments must have the permission of the Legislature to make the payments.

WMFE

New documents obtained by 90.7 News show a new side to Valencia’s transvaginal lawsuit case.

Three students are alleging that Valencia violated their constitutional rights by browbeating them to submit to pelvic ultrasounds.

Students performed the tests on one another in the medical sonography program.

Health Reporter Abe Aboraya spoke with Morning Edition Host Nicole Creston.

Wikimedia Commons

Abortions are still being performed at Planned Parenthood’s Kissimmee location, but that may not be the case for much longer. 

Planned Parenthood on Monday asked an appeals court to reconsider its decision and allow abortions to continue in its Kissimmee clinic.

A three-judge panel ruled late last month that abortions must stop while a lower court case continues.

A judge granted a temporary injunction last year barring abortions at the site across from a Kissimmee hospital.

Abe Aboraya / Health News Florida

Theresa Civil is a high school junior and a wrestler.

The Orlando teen has a big smile and a big laugh, and she’s got big plans for after high school: She wants to be a homicide detective, get her Ph.D. and become an Army engineer.

She frets about her health. Any little thing wrong, she goes to the doctor.

That used to mean making an appointment and waiting weeks for an opening. Now, Civil sees the doctor in the halls, and the next morning, she’s being seen at Evans Wellness Cottage.

FL Tops U.S. For Health Subsidies

Jun 3, 2015

More than 10 million people have signed up for private health insurance this year under the federal health law, the administration said Tuesday. That puts the nation finally within reach of coverage for all, but it may not last.

The report from the Department of Health and Human Services comes as dozens of insurers are proposing double-digit premium hikes for next year, raising concerns about future affordability. And the Supreme Court is weighing the legality of subsidized premiums for millions of consumers in more than 30 states. A decision is due around the end of the month.

HealthCare.gov

Health insurance premiums for nearly 600,000 Floridians could increase more than 10 percent next year, according to proposed rates released Monday on the federal healthCare.gov website.

Costs for Florida consumers buying individual plans could increase as much as 60 percent for companies such as UnitedHealthcare, the proposed rates show.

Abe Aboraya / Health News Florida

The Central Florida YMCA got a $1.7 million grant  from the UnitedHealth Foundation. It will fund a three-year pilot program called HealthierLifeRX.

Those enrolled will spend 12 months working with a doctor and a personalized health and lifestyle coach to achieve health care goals. State Rep. Jason Brodeur said if the program is successful, he’d like to see it replicated in Medicaid.

WMFE

The Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute has announced a new collaboration with Asia’s largest drug maker. Takeda Pharmaceutical Company will fund research at Sanford-Burnham in Lake Nona for the next two years.

Sanford-Burnham will look for new compounds that could become drugs to treat heart disease and heart failure. Dr. Rick Vega says this is the third partnership with Takeda in the last five years.

“Their supporting our research provides direct funding and support for the research and jobs at the Sanford-Burnham here in Orlando,” Vega said.

WMFE

A lawsuit against Valencia College’s medical sonography program has been expanded. A third unnamed student joined the suit in an amended complaint filed Thursday.

The suit alleges that Valencia College violated student’s constitutional rights by “browbeating” them to volunteer for pelvic ultrasounds. Valencia College didn’t respond to an immediate phone call seeking comment, but earlier this week announced a permanent ban to the practice of peer-to-peer transvaginal ultrasounds.

WMFE

A budget standoff in Florida over federal funding for low-income patients could be ending. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter to the Agency for Health Care Administration today.

Federal officials had previously said Florida would not continue to get money for the “Low Income Pool” program unless the state agreed to expand Medicaid, an optional portion of the Affordable Care Act. Now, a letter from a top official says Florida likely will get federal funds for the “LIP” program.

Abe Aboraya / WMFE

Gov. Rick Scott’s hospital commission, tasked with looking at how taxpayer dollars are used to support health care for the poor, discussed performance funding for hospitals at a meeting Tuesday in Orlando.

The nine-member group delved through detailed hospital statistics, and started brainstorming ideas for how to reform hospital payments.

Tom Kuntz, a former chairman of SunTrust, helped build performance funding metrics for Florida’s university system. Kuntz says the hospital commission could look at a similar system for hospitals.

WMFE

The head of the Veterans Administration is in Orlando today to dedicate the new VA hospital in Lake Nona. VA Secretary Bob McDonald will be the keynote speaker at an event, which will include elected officials.

The $620 million dollar facility broke ground seven years ago, and has been plagued with delays. The clinic began seeing patients in February, and the hospital will continue opening in phases through the rest of 2015.

Navy veteran Tom Pokorski said the new facility is an improvement over the VA clinic at Lake Baldwin, which is old and over-crowded.

WMFE

Florida Governor Rick Scott’s commission investigating hospital finances will meet for the first time today. The meetings come as Florida’s legislature preps for a special session.

Health care spending has been the big division in Florida’s budget thanks to a billion-dollar hospital fund that’s ending. Federal officials want Florida to expand Medicaid to cover Florida’s uninsured, and hospitals have been pushing for expansions.

WMFE

Two Valencia College students in Orlando have filed a lawsuit alleging students were "browbeat" into having pelvic ultrasounds performed on them.

Valencia College hasn’t been served the lawsuit, filed late last week, but defended its use of student volunteers.

Seminole State College’s new Wellness Center got its first round of approvals today.

The board approved a partnership project between the college, Orlando Health, the YMCA and Walgreens. The building will cost 10-million dollars, and will open in January of 2017.

Jay Davis, a spokesman for the school, said The Keith Corporation’s proposal will be full negotiated now. Check here to look at those documents.

WMFE

The Florida Department of Health is offering free screenings for Hepatitis today as part of hepatitis awareness month. The testing comes as hepatitis rates rise in Central Florida.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers Hepatitis C a silent epidemic. It often has few symptoms while damaging the liver.

And Hepatitis C is on the rise: Baby boomers are 75 percent of Hep C cases. That’s because blood products weren’t screened for Hepatitis C before 1992, and many were likely infected when the disease was at its height during the 70s and 80s.

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