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
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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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 Mon October 27, 2014 2:17 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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