Carol Gentry

Health News Florida Special Correspondent

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.

After serving two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, Gentry worked for a number of newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), theTampa Tribune and Orlando Sentinel.  She was a Kaiser Foundation Media Fellow in 1994-95 and earned an MPA at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1996.  She directed a journalism fellowship program at CDC for four years.

Gentry created Health News Florida, an independent non-profit health journalism publication, in 2006, and served as editor until September, 2014, when she became a special correspondent. She and Health News Florida joined WUSF  in 2012. 

Contact Ms. Gentry at at 727-410-3266 or by e-mail.

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Health News Florida
5:42 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Grand Jury Targets Medicare HMO

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 5:41 pm

Florida's insurance officials are recommending a state takeover and liquidation of Florida Healthcare Plus, a Medicare Advantage plan accused of submitting $25.2 million in phony bills to Medicare and Florida Medicaid.

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NPR Story
6:59 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Hep C Drugs Cost FL Medicaid $30M So Far

This handout photo provided by Gilead Sciences shows the Hepatitis-C medication Sovaldi.
Associated Press

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 10:29 am

Florida Medicaid has spent at least $30.6 million in the past year on costly drug treatments for Hepatitis C, according to records from the Agency for Health Care Administration. 

Most of the spending was for Sovaldi, an antiviral approved by the Food and Drug Administration in December 2013. It was fast-tracked after clinical trials showed it had a high cure rate for patients in advanced stages of liver disease who were infected with the most common strain of the Hepatitis C virus.

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Health News Florida
9:20 am
Wed November 12, 2014

WellCare Questions Medicare Ratings

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 9:00 am

Medicare Advantage plans that draw a lot of their enrollment from the poor side of town say they're at a disadvantage on the government's five-star ratings scale, which commands respect and governs pay.

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Health News Florida
10:30 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

WellCare Boasts 4M Members

Drew Asher, WellCare exec

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 8:30 am

WellCare Health Plans' stock shot up 7 percent Wednesday after the release of a third-quarter earnings report that showed membership now exceeds 4 million. That's up from 2.8 million members at the same time a year ago, a jump of 43 percent.  

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Health News Florida
8:12 am
Tue November 4, 2014

New Whistleblower Charges at WellCare

Attorney Kevin Darkin

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 11:55 am

WellCare Health Plans, which paid more than $400 million to settle past accusations of health-care fraud, is once again being sued under the False Claims Act.

The whistleblowers in this case are a half-dozen former WellCare staff members, including the former Vice President of Care Management Dr. Kirk Cianciolo. All are represented by Tampa attorney Kevin Darken, from the same firm that handled the previous whistleblower case against the Tampa-based WellCare.

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Health News Florida
10:43 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Hospitals Take Leap on Prevention

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 2:12 pm

Nearly half of Florida hospitals have earned an "A" on error prevention in a new report card from a business-backed group concerned about patient safety.

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Health News Florida
10:03 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Suspended Medicare HMOs Still Listed

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 2:10 pm

Many Florida shoppers at Medicare.gov will find Day Break and Sunrise among their lowest-priced HMO options. But if they call to enroll in either one, they’re out of luck.

Florida Healthcare Plus, a small Coral Gables company that sponsors the two Medicare Advantage plans, is under state and federal suspension, unable to sign up new members during the current open-enrollment season for Medicare, Oct. 15-Dec. 7. Being frozen at this time of year can be a death sentence for such plans.

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University Beat
5:21 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

USF Cancels African Journalists Visit; Ebola Fears Blamed

African journalists from the 2010 Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists pose along the USF St. Pete waterfront

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 10:21 am

Officials at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg have canceled a five-day visit by 14 African journalists that was to begin Oct. 31, because of fears of the Ebola virus.

In a letter today written by Han Reichgelt, regional vice president for academic affairs (see below), he says they're doing so out of an abundance of caution.

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NPR Story
9:17 am
Mon October 13, 2014

2 Doctors Lose Licenses for Pain Pills

Originally published on Sun October 12, 2014 5:30 pm

Two Gulf Coast physicians lost their medical licenses Friday on similar charges, prescribing large quantities of addictive pain pills in ways the state said endangered the public.

One of them, Dr. Konstantine Yankopolus of Fort Myers, had already been suspended from practice in an emergency order filed by the Florida Department of Health in May 2013. 

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NPR Story
8:16 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Eye Surgeon Wins Close Call

Dr. Alan Mendelsohn

Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 8:10 am

A letter from the Federal Bureau of Prisons almost cost Alan Mendelsohn his medical practice, only months after resuming it.

The prominent Hollywood eye surgeon, who served 2 ½ years of a four-year prison term on charges of public corruption and tax evasion, was sent to a halfway house in July.  There, residents are required to work during the days but must return each evening.

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Health News Florida
9:10 am
Fri October 10, 2014

FL Medicare Plan Wins 5 Stars

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 2:13 pm

Just in time for Medicare's open enrollment season, a Florida-based HMO has won the federal government's coveted  five-star rating, a rare honor that brings more than bragging rights. Such plans receive the freedom to enroll new members all year long. 

The winner, CarePlus Health Plans Inc., is a subsidiary of Humana Inc., Florida's largest Medicare vendor. Humana did well in the quality ratings, too,  but was outscored by the little plan it bought in 2005.

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Health News Florida
9:38 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Medicare's Complexity Can Be Scary

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 2:14 pm

As of Nov. 1, I will be on Medicare, which means I have to enroll this month. I should have plenty of company, since open enrollment for 2015 begins Oct. 15.

As a reporter and editor on the health-care beat, I’ve been explaining Medicare to the public since 1976. So people assume that I understand it thoroughly.  

But writing about Medicare is one thing; living it is another. For advice, I called Barbara Katz, a former reporter and lawyer who recently moved to Longboat Key from another state.  She enrolled in Medicare and a supplemental plan six years ago.

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Health News Florida
7:55 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Damages Reduced in Kickbacks Case

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 8:07 am

A federal judge has reduced the punitive damages that a Tampa jury imposed in June on national drug-testing firm Millennium Laboratories after finding that it engaged in unfair competition by breaking anti-kickback laws in Florida and two other states.

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Health News Florida
8:58 am
Mon September 15, 2014

FL Health Centers Get $13.4M

Originally published on Sat September 13, 2014 10:00 am

Four dozen health centers around the state that provide a medical home for uninsured low-income Floridians and for those who are newly insured through the Affordable Care Act will get a share of $13.4 million in federal funds, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday afternoon.

Most of the grants fell into the range of $150,000 to $400,000, but a few of them were for more:

·         Community Health of South Florida in Miami, about $507,000.

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Health News Florida
9:57 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Will Low Bidder Care for Kids?

Pearline Reno, LPN, with DJ
Carol Gentry/WUSF

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 11:12 am

In an ordinary house on an ordinary street near Orlando live some extraordinary children. To stay alive, they depend on machines and tubes and the caregivers sent out by an agency called Children First.

Registered nurse Maria Schiavi, co-owner of Children First, says some of the kids they care for were injured in an accident, such as a near-drowning. Others were born with life-threatening problems that modern medicine can’t fix.

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