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
9:14 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Punishment for Fatal Error a Tough Call

Justin Solnay with family poodle
Courtesy of Solnay Family

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 9:13 am

  Two years ago, a little boy with a leaky heart valve was rolled into the operating room at Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando.  Before starting surgery, as required, the team took a “Time Out.”

Doctors and nurses made sure they had the correct patient on the table – Justin Solnay, age 11 – and were planning the right procedure – replacing Justin’s weak aortic valve with a mechanical implant. They ran through the list; check, check and check.

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Health News Florida
9:28 am
Mon May 18, 2015

Hospitals Hesitant to Give Commission Data

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 10:28 am

Gov. Rick Scott, who last week asked the state's hospitals to provide a large amount of financial data by Monday, will not get all that he asked for that quickly. He may not get some of it at all.

Hospital executives and lawyers say they want to cooperate with Scott and his newly appointed Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding, which seeks data on services, profits, costs and patient outcomes. 

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Health News Florida
9:50 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Gov’s Hospital Commission Brings Deja Vu

Florida TaxWatch President Dominic Calabro served as chairman of Gov. Rick Scott's first hospital commission in 2011.

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 9:20 am

Gov. Rick Scott’s call for an investigation of hospital finances, officially issued this week, had a familiar ring to Floridians in the health-care industry.

“My first thought was, ‘Gee, didn’t we just do that?’” said Linda Quick, president of the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association. She was one of those asked to testify at a 2011 hearing held by Scott’s first hospital-financing panel, created shortly after he was sworn into office.

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Health News Florida
3:32 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

House Packet on Medicaid Called Misleading

House Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes

Originally published on Thu May 7, 2015 12:07 pm

Florida House leaders, who for three years have rejected federal funds to expand health coverage to the poor, brought the legislative session to an early halt Tuesday because of their rock-solid belief that “Medicaid is broken.”

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Health News Florida
9:17 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Gardiner: Send Full FHIX Plan to Feds

Senate President Andy Gardiner

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 3:00 pm

Florida Medicaid’s request that federal officials send the state $2.2 billion dollars to keep the Low Income Pool subsidies flowing to hospitals won’t work because a vital part is missing, Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner says.

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Health News Florida
9:00 am
Sun April 19, 2015

Medicaid HMOs Losing Money on Drugs

Kevin Kearns, president & CEO of Prestige Health Choice

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 12:45 am

Florida Medicaid, which has been touting its "Managed Medical Assistance" program as a national model, may want to hold off.

The program, which shifts virtually all Medicaid recipients into managed-care plans, underestimated how much their care would cost.

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Health News Florida
10:25 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Bruising Battle Over Balance-Billing

Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami-Dade

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 3:14 pm

 After an emergency trip to the hospital, some patients find a nasty surprise in their mailbox -- bills their insurer didn't pay. Florida law protects some patients from this but not others.

Those in an HMO would see all their bills covered: ambulance, hospital, and doctors. But those who have another type of health insurance could be slapped with astronomical bills. They could have collection agents calling to get whatever their plan didn't pay.

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NPR Story
8:51 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Delays Often Cost FL Federal Funds

USF Professor of Public Health Jay Wolfson

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 2:33 pm

When federal money’s on the table, most states go for it like coupon-clippers at a closeout sale.

But studies show that when it comes to seeking federal money, Florida holds back, particularly in health care. Sometimes, the state changes its mind later and asks for its share of the money, only to discover that it’s too late; other states have made off with it.

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NPR Story
8:04 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Billions at Stake as State, Feds Negotiate Medicaid

Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 8:02 am

When the 2015 legislative session begins next week, many of the state’s decisions on health care for the poor are on hold as state and federal Medicaid officials negotiate over funding, behind closed doors. Billions of dollars are at stake.

When it comes to health-care funding, Florida’s in a funny position. The state has twice turned down billions of dollars from federal Medicaid that would have covered care for about a million poor Floridians.

This year may be no different.

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Health News Florida
8:03 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Rep. Hudson on Medicaid Expansion: No!

Rep. Matt Hudson

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 12:03 am

Florida business groups, insurers, and hospitals are pushing state officials to accept billions of dollars in federal funds to cover the low-income uninsured.

But when the 2015 legislative session opens next Tuesday, this impressive coalition will run into Rep. Matt Hudson, a Naples Republican who chairs the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.

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Health News Florida
10:52 am
Tue February 10, 2015

CMS Official: No More LIP for Florida

Eliot Fishman

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 9:38 am

The nation’s Medicaid chief said Tuesday the federal funds Florida hospitals have depended on to pay for the uninsured will not be arriving any more.

There is “no way” that Florida’s “Low Income Pool” program will continue when it expires in June, said Eliot Fishman, director of the Medicaid division of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  “Not in its present form.”

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Health News Florida
8:03 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Accused Molester Loses Medical License

Dr. Albert Esmailzadeh

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 3:16 pm

After emotional testimony from three former patients, the Florida Board of Medicine revoked the  license of a Central Florida pain doctor charged with sexually molesting six women.

Dr. Albert Esmailzadeh was accused of committing the abuse while practicing at clinics in Melbourne, Daytona Beach and Altamonte Springs between 2010 and 2013. Since then, he has been restricted to treating male patients under an emergency order from the Florida Department of Health.

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Health News Florida
8:01 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Psychiatrist Called 'Clueless' About Drugs

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 6:18 am

A long-time Miami-area psychiatrist who prescribes heavy-duty drugs in abundance has not been doing it safely, the Florida Board of Medicine said Friday.

Dr. Francisco J. Pages, charged with mismanaging the care of nine patients, needs to be evaluated to see what his knowledge level is, the board decided at a meeting in Stuart. Pages needs training to make up the deficits and close supervision by another psychiatrist for at least two years, the board said.

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Health News Florida
11:47 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Board of Medicine Approves $1-a-Page Copy Fee

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 11:44 am

  Doctors’ offices and others can charge patients $1 a page for copies of their medical records under a rule change adopted by the Florida Board of Medicine early Friday. The increased fee applies even if the records are kept and sent electronically.

The rule previously set the maximum for patients at a lower amount for lengthy records: $1 a page for the first 25 pages, and 25 cents a page thereafter. 

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Health News Florida
9:22 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Behavior Could End Doctor's Career

Albert Esmailzadeh, MD

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:48 am

A Central Florida doctor accused of molesting six women patients – sometimes while he was injecting pain medicine into their spine – is expected to receive the ultimate punishment Friday from the Florida Board of Medicine.

The board, meeting in Stuart, is expected to revoke the license of Dr. Albert Esmailzadeh, 49, a certified pain specialist.  That is the recommendation from Administrative Law Judge R. Bruce McKibben, who held hearings several months ago.

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