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Abe Aboraya

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

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.

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.

 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.

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.

 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 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.

A decade from now, Florida is expected to be short 7,000 doctors.

The University of Central Florida is looking to tackle some of that.

Deborah German, dean of the UCF medical school, said Thursday the school wants to expand the training doctors get after getting a medical degree. The specialty residencies would focus on psychiatry, surgery and emergency medicine.

And it would offer the opportunity to get new federal money, German said.

The Florida Department of Health has confirmed a measles case in Central Florida.

The measles was diagnosed in an international traveler who stayed at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee March 16 and March 17.

The unidentified traveler spent most of the time in Osceola County, but also visited Miami-Dade, Orange and Sarasota Counties while contagious.

Frank Gilbert has been nudged a few times while riding a bike to work. Nudged is his term for cars bumping into him.

If you close your eyes and think of someone riding a bike to work, you might picture spandex and neon helmets. Maybe jean shorts and a handlebar mustache.

WMFE

Opponents of a bill restricting public bathroom use based on a person’s born gender spoke out in Orlando Tuesday. The Single Sex Public Facilities Bill cleared a house committee last week, and could be heard by a committee as early as next week.

The bill imposes fines and possible jail time for transgender Floridians using the bathroom of the sex they identify with. For example, a transgender man who identifies as a woman could not use the women’s restroom.

Florida tops the nation with the number of residents getting subsidies to buy health insurance through the federal health insurance exchange. One reason: state legislators decided against expanding Medicaid, the state’s health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

Florida Hospital CEO Lars Houmann was in Tallahassee as the legislative session kicked off, urging lawmakers to take billions of dollars and give health care to nearly a million more Floridians.

Matthew Robinson loved to have eggs for dinner.
 
But they were out the evening of November 4, 2010. So the 10-year-old and his brother Mark walked out of their Kissimmee apartment and headed across the street to the Kangaroo convenience store.
 

While crossing the street to come home, a city bus made a left turn into the crosswalk and hit the two boys.

Nursing home beds have been in short supply in Florida for more than a decade.

But the Agency for Health Care Administration on Friday will authorize its top picks to add another 3,100 spots across the state.

The end of this 14-year moratorium can’t come soon enough for Lillian Lara of Orlando.

Her 87-year-old father fell in December and, after a hospital stay, he’s had a bed in the short-term rehabilitation section of The Commons at Orlando Lutheran Towers.

 Two competitors are suing to stop a new psychiatric hospital in Brevard County from being built.

A judge said this week that he wants a hearing on the case by this summer on the 74-bed, $16.4 million hospital approved by the state last December.
 
But Devereux Florida, a nonprofit behavioral healthcare services provider, is asking a judge to reverse that, saying it can provide the care with its 100 beds.
 

No one directly involved with the case responded to interview requests.

State Sen. Aaron Bean said a proposed telemedicine bill is likely to pass this session.

Bean, chairman of the Senate Health Policy committee told a business-friendly health conference in Orlando Monday that a key is incorporating the treatment of patients using Medicaid, the public health insurance program for the poor.

Florida is getting closer to allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana.

But first, rules for how to grow the non-euphoric strain of the drug have to be hashed out — and that’s what a committee will be discussing over the next two days in Tallahassee.

Bill Gettle has been on the brink of death from a heroin overdose more than once.

Three years ago he overdosed and had to be revived with a reversal drug called Narcan.

“I didn’t really care,” Gettle said. “I was using amounts I knew I’d seen other people die from. In my early 20s, I lost more than one friend to overdose.”

It’s a familiar sight for many commuters: a yellow school bus slows to a stop, a red stop sign swings out, and children get on or off the bus.

Passing a school bus that’s stopped could soon get you a reckless driving charge in Florida, according to a new bill proposed this week.

The promise of a new year often comes with a familiar resolution: eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and get healthy.

But for the 23.5 million Americans living without easy access to a grocery store, eating healthy isn’t easy.

One Central Florida nonprofit this week started bringing a mobile farmer's market into neighborhoods that need it.

If Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell has a chance, she wants to talk with Florida leaders about expanding Medicaid in Florida.

Burwell was at Florida Hospital in Orlando Tuesday promoting open enrollment on the federal HealthCare.gov insurance exchange.  

She said in an interview with Health News Florida that she’s trying to understand why Florida’s legislature has decided to not expand the government health coverage for the poor. She said she’s open to talking about Medicaid expansion with legislative leaders and Governor Rick Scott.

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