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

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.

WMFE

Health care’s a growing industry. But not all health care jobs are created equal.

The board that oversees Florida’s universities on Monday will look at whether Florida graduates enough health care workers to meet demand and it could lead to new programs. 

The Florida Board of Governor's report looks at the statewide number of graduates in a field, compared to the projected number of new jobs.

A former SunTrust CEO from Winter Park has been appointed to a committee to investigate hospitals. Tom Kuntz is one of nine members on a panel investigating hospital finances.

WMFE

The president of Nemours Children’s Hospital in Medical City is retiring this year, the hospital announced today. Roger Oxendale led Nemours Children’s Hospital through construction of the $400 million hospital, which opened in late 2012.

Oxendale is retiring at the end of the year to spend more time with his new grandchild, he said in a statement. Dana Nicholson Bledsoe will take over as president in July.

See below for the full announcement:

For years, hospitals in Florida have been fighting over the right to add new trauma centers. That fight came to an end this week, as four new trauma centers opened in Florida: One in Miami, one in Sarasota, and two in Central Florida.

Health News Florida's Abe Aboraya spoke with WMFE's Morning Edition Host Nicole Creston:

NC: Historically, there’s been one trauma center in Central Florida, and that’s Orlando Regional Medical Center. But that’s not the case anymore.

Abe Aboraya / Health News Florida

Celisa Perez is at a small shop in the heart of Orlando’s Vietnamese community, not far from Little Vietnam, getting small needles pushed into her face.

Perez has had migraines for 30 years. She’s tried three different medicines to prevent them, but none of them worked. She tried a chiropractor and herbal supplements, but still the debilitating migraines came two to three times a week.

So now Perez is trying acupuncture.

“Deep…breath in…and out,” says Van Nguyen, an acupuncturist.

Florida officials debuted a new proposal Wednesday to try and keep a $2.2 billion dollar health fund for the uninsured. The fund is coming with significant changes. But first, a quick magic trick to demonstrate how LIP works.

Florida takes 40 cents, waves a magic federal wand over, and ta-da: We now have a shiny $1 bill.

But here’s the rub: the federal government doesn’t like that magic trick. They want LIP to be more transparent and less magical. They also want to make sure that hospital A doesn’t get a big ol’ chunk of that dollar just because it ponied up the 40 cents.

WMFE / WMFE

Florida officials have a new proposal to try and keep $2.2 billion federal health fund for the uninsured.

The Low Income Pool, or LIP, reimburses hospitals for the care of uninsured patients. The new plan would reimburse based on the quality of care.

The Agency for Health Care Administration took public comment for the first time Wednesday. Poinciana retiree Jim Guth said he supports the program, but doesn’t like the strings attached to federal dollars.

Agency for Health Care Administration

For the first time today, the public will get to weigh in on what to do with a federal program for the uninsured that’s created gridlock in Tallahassee. The Wednesday meeting in Orlando kicks off a series of statewide hearings on the Low Income Pool, or LIP.

LIP is a $2.2 billion dollar fund that mostly reimburses hospitals for treating Floridians without health insurance. It expires this summer, and federal officials aren’t inclined to extend it, saying instead the state should expand Medicaid to an additional 800,000 Floridians.

Nurse escorts elderly man using walker
Wikimedia Commons

 Nearly thirty companies will be competing to build new nursing homes in Florida. And with 1,700 applications for only about 500 new beds, competition will be fierce.

Florida just ended a 15-year moratorium on new nursing home construction.

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek said this could be the last big round of new nursing homes because of a cap.

WMFE / WMFE

An Orlando nonprofit that 3-D prints free bionic arms for children is expanding. And to kick off the expansion, they gave a 3-D printed arm to autistic 12-year-old.

Wyatt Falardeau had his arm amputated shortly after birth. He’s a huge fan of Blue Man Group, and earlier this month, they gave him a new robotic arm.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Wyatt said.

WMFE

Orlando Health’s new CEO gave his first public remarks today at an event designating one of its hospitals as a Cancer Center of Excellence.

Strong started his new job six days ago.

“I’ll tell you that a few years ago, I lost my mom to blood cancer, multiple myeloma,” Strong said. “And this is the kind of center that I would have wanted my mom at.”

Strong also talked about the importance of new technology.

WMFE

Accidental deaths from drug use is up 26 percent in Orange and Osceola counties, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Heroin overtook cocaine as the deadliest street drug last year. Heroin was found in 89 deaths in Orange and Osceola counties last year, that’s compared to 19 heroin-related deaths in 2011.

Cocaine was a close second, with 88 deaths, and was often used in combination with other drugs. That’s an 89 percent increase from 2012.

Associated Press

 Florida Gov. Rick Scott stopped shy of saying he would veto an expansion to Medicaid. Speaking to reporters in Orlando Tuesday, Scott said the federal government can’t be trusted to pay for Medicaid.

But when pressed, he stopped short of saying he would veto an expansion to the health insurance program for the poor.

The Robinson family

A Florida House committee on Tuesday will look at 14 claim bills, including a multi-million dollar settlement for a fatal Lynx bus accident in Kissimmee. 

Matthew Robinson was crossing the street in Kissimmee when Lynx bus failed to yield at the crosswalk, hitting and killing the 10-year-old. Lynx admitted fault and settled for $3.2 million, but government settlements in Florida are capped at $200,000.

MyFloridaHouse.gov

The conservative political group Americans for Prosperity is taking aim at Senate President Andy Gardiner’s Medicaid expansion plans.

The mailers were sent to voters in the districts of 23 state senators, including Senate President Andy Gardiner. Officials from Americans for Prosperity said in a statement the current plan doesn’t do enough to curb health care costs.

The group, backed by the Koch brothers, wants to expand telemedicine, eliminate government oversight of health care and allow some health care workers to do more.

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