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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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 20, 2014 10:44 am

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 Thu October 9, 2014 10:45 am

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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Health News Florida
9:38 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Home-Care Firm Rules Medicaid Market

Medicaid Director Justin Senior
Agency for Health Care Administration

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 12:26 pm

It’s much too soon to say whether this summer’s flood of Florida Medicaid patients into private managed-care plans will accomplish the state’s goals of improving access to care and saving money.

But one result is already clear: The overhaul is concentrating power in the hands of specialty companies over which the state has no direct control.  Some say one such company has essentially taken over home care services and equipment.

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Health News Florida
1:29 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

FL 'Navigator' Grants Total $6.8M

Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 10:16 am

The University of South Florida has been awarded by far the largest grant in the state to hire "navigators" who help uninsured people sign up for health insurance coverage through the federal Marketplace, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday.

Only two other Florida organizations won  navigator grants: the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, $871,275, and the Pinellas County Commission, $535,156. 

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NPR Story
9:45 am
Thu September 4, 2014

Medicare HMO Fined, Frozen

Susan Molina, CEO, Florida Healthcare Plus

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 5:08 pm

Florida Healthcare Plus, a Medicare HMO and drug plan, is under state review for making a $600,000 error in a financial statement and has been temporarily blocked from enrolling any new members, its chief executive says.

The company, based in Coral Gables, was also recently fined $113,200 by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a different type of infraction -- "systemic failures" to provide all the benefits due to members under CMS rules.

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NPR Story
10:14 am
Wed September 3, 2014

WellCare, Centene Medicaid Winners

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 8:22 am

With the multi-billion-dollar, four-month enroll-a-thon for Florida’s Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program now complete, totals show WellCare Health Plans still on top. 

The Tampa company’s Staywell plan now has more than 600,000 Florida Medicaid members. That’s 23 percent of the state’s roughly 3.3 million residents with Medicaid coverage, according to calculations by Citigroup Global Markets’ analyst Carl McDonald.

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Health News Florida
8:33 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Obamacare Sign-Ups to Rise 23%?

Jack McDermott, Director of Life & Health Products Review, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation

Originally published on Sun September 21, 2014 9:57 pm

Editor's Note: This story has been corrected regarding the way state and federal agencies report Affordable Care Act insurance enrollment . 

The number of Floridians enrolled in individual health plans under the Affordable Care Act in June was 866,485, according to new state data compiled from insurers’ reports. The carriers expect enrollment to rise to 1.1 million next year, an increase of 23 percent.

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Health News Florida
9:06 am
Fri August 22, 2014

FDA Panel Says No; Docs Say Yes

Dr. Ronald Wheeler
YouTube.com

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 9:06 am

Sarasota urologist  Ronald Wheeler says he's going to continue doing a controversial prostate-cancer treatment, even though an FDA panel recently voted against it and even though the state could punish him for it.

Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the French device that Wheeler uses for high-intensity focused ultrasound, called HIFU, he has been treating his patients in Mexico.

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Health News Florida
9:28 am
Wed August 20, 2014

15 FL Scientists Named 'Most Influential'

Roy Baumeister, Ph.D, FSU psychologist

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 9:21 am

A list of "cutting-edge" scientists who have the most influence on their fields -- using citations by other scholars as the yardstick -- includes 15 researchers based in Florida.

While most are known only in their field of study, a handful have made news. One even co-authored a bestseller.

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NPR Story
10:10 am
Wed August 13, 2014

'Predatory' Doctor Prevails in Hearing

David Simon, D.O.

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 8:28 am

A Lake Worth family doctor accused of beating, choking and locking up a patient during a year-long sexual relationship should be allowed to continue practicing, a state hearing officer says. 

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