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
7:17 am
Thu December 11, 2014

State Takes Over Medicare HMO

Circuit Court Judge George S. Reynolds III

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 6:33 am

Florida Healthcare Plus, a Medicare HMO with 10,000 members, was declared insolvent Wednesday and turned over to state authorities.

In such cases, state and federal officials help patients move into other health plans or to traditional Medicare. More information is expected on that today or Friday.

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Health News Florida
7:31 am
Wed December 10, 2014

OB-Gyns Protest Safety Rule

Dr. Karen Harris, OB-Gyn

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 10:54 am

Florida’s tough new safety rule for medical-office surgery, years in the making, has been delayed at the last minute by an outcry from obstetrician-gynecologists.

The OB-Gyns appeared Friday at the Florida Board of Medicine, which was to have passed the safety rule that day, to ask for an amendment to spare them from some of the provisions.  Board members decided instead to postpone the issue while they figure out what to do.

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Health News Florida
12:24 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Middle-Aged, Low Income Fall into 'Gap'

Carlos Seibane is both a patient and volunteer at the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.
Carol Gentry, Health News Florida

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 11:41 am

When the Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace opened last year, Beth and Doug Warner of St. Petersburg asked a navigator to enroll them. But they discovered their income wasn’t high enough to get a subsidy.

Without one, Doug Warner said, the policy for the couple would cost $700 a month. “Basically the choice was, ‘Keep the roof over your head or buy healthcare.'”

It’s one of the great ironies of the health overhaul. Floridians most in need of health insurance -- adults below the poverty line -- are often blocked from coverage the Affordable Care Act provides.

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Health News Florida
10:49 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Which Medicare Path Do I Take?

Carol Gentry, special correspondent.

(Editor's Note: It's Medicare enrollment season, now through Dec. 7, and beneficiaries are trying to decide on a plan. Health News Florida’s Carol Gentry, who has covered Medicare for many years, is seeing the federal program from a new point of view: as a beneficiary. Her first commentary, which aired Oct. 9, was "Medicare's Complexity Can Be Scary." The second one, "Which Medicare Path Do I Take?" is below).

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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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