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

One of the nation’s largest drug testing laboratories will pay $256 million to settle allegations it over-billed the U.S. government for urine drug tests. The Justice Department found that Millennium Health billed the government for unnecessary urine drug tests and genetic testing.

WMFE

The University of Central Florida announced a five-year deal with the country’s largest for-profit hospital chain to train doctors after graduation, with the hope that those slots will mean as many as 550 doctors will stick around Florida to practice medicine.

WMFE

The Florida Department of Health is offering hands-only CPR training at locations across the state for free today. Hands only CPR is the same as regular CPR, but without mouth to mouth resuscitation.

WMFE

Adventist Health System has settled a whistleblower suit for $115 million dollars. It’s the largest settlement of a False Claims Act dispute without litigation, according to magazine Modern Healthcare.

The central Florida based nonprofit Adventist Health System was accused of awarding bonuses to doctors for referrals in Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

WMFE

Orlando Health mailed letters today to more than 5,300 patients who may have gotten bad mammograms. Women who went to the Boston Diagnostic Imaging location on Orange Avenue from May of 2013 to July of 2015 are asked to call Orlando Health.

WMFE

Nemours Children’s Hospital is starting two of the largest pediatric studies in the country.

WMFE

Valencia College is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit against its ultrasound technician program. Three students claim they were “browbeaten” into volunteering for transvaginal ultrasounds and are seeking damages.

Abe Aboraya / Health News Florida

  Jesse Dixon is walking the streets of Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood, armed with backpacks stuffed with Ziploc bags of condoms.

WMFE

Profits are increasing at several Central Florida-based hospital groups, according to quarterly disclosures.

Combined, Adventist Health System, Orlando Health, South Lake Hospital and Health First have made $647-million dollars in profit so far this year.

Health First

Brevard County’s Health First is again the target of a lawsuit.

Competitor Parrish Medical Center is asking a judge to block Health First’s purchase of Space Coast Cancer Center, which has locations in Merritt Island, Titusville and Viera. The suit accuses Health First of violating anti-trust laws and creating a monopoly for health services in Brevard County.

WMFE

Floridians depend on cars to get just about anywhere. And getting to the doctor without one can be tough.

Orlando resident David Williams knows this reality well, especially since  the brand new Orlando VA Medical Center moved from the downtown core to the suburbs.

WMFE

Medical marijuana is one step closer to the ballot in 2016. Supporters have enough signatures to trigger a supreme court review.

WMFE

Seminole State College has approved a new health science and education building. The seven-story, $48 million building will go up at the Altamonte Springs campus.

Orange County Government

The first meeting of a multi-agency task force to combat Orange County’s growing heroin problem was punctuated by Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs promising a quick response to an spike in heroin overdoses and deaths. 

“This is going to be a very expedited process,” Jacobs said. “We’re going to spend approximately six months. This task force is not going to meet for six years. … So this is a matter of utmost urgency.”

WMFE

A Central Florida public defender called for an end to arrests for being broke. And the chief judge agrees the program needs to be evaluated, but for different reasons.

Orange and Osceola County Public Defender Bob Wesley is asking the chief judge to create a commission investigating court costs, fines and collection practices.

Wesley said that Tuesday morning alone, five people were arrested and brought before the court for unpaid fines – all with mental health issues.

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.

Samples of medical marijuana shown on display
Wikimedia Commons

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.

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