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Health News Florida Staff

Health News Florida is now part of WUSF Public Media in Tampa, Florida.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012. 

Read WUSF News Director Scott Finn's column about it.

Please send news tips or questions to Carol Gentry:

--Landline 813-974-8629

--Cell 727-410-3266

--email cgentry@wusf.org or e-mail carol.gentry@healthnewsflorida.org.

Gov. Rick Scott has rejected a request from Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to consider a search for a new head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Scott wants the cabinet to consider changes at the departments of insurance regulation, financial regulation, and revenue. The exchange comes as Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into the ouster of former FDLE head Gerald Bailey.

The University of South Florida is being asked to repay $6.5 million in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant money it claimed, The Tampa Tribune reports.

An Englewood psychiatrist was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to repay the Internal Revenue Service $15 million in taxes, the Lakeland Ledger reports.

The Health News Florida team is coming to USF Sarasota-Manatee on Thursday, May 8 at 5:30 p.m. for a brief program and reception.

It's your chance to meet us and the leaders of WUSF Public Media, which has been our home since September 2012.

Florida's union that represents teachers says it is dropping a lawsuit aimed at blocking an expansion of the state's main private school voucher program.

Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis in late December tossed the lawsuit. The judge ruled those who filed the lawsuit didn't show how the expansion would harm them.

Not every friendship starts on the set of a movie.

But that’s how Tampa teen Shelby Ronea and fellow actor Noah Diggs of St. Petersburg met. The pair was among the actors tapped for the Haley Joel Osment film, “Sex Ed,” filmed during the summer of 2013 in Tampa.  The film will be released on November 7th.

In this installment of StoryCorps Tampa Bay, the 15-year-olds talk with Shelby’s mom, Renea Elmore, about their love for performing and their hopes for the future.

Jury selection is set to begin for the second trial of a Florida man accused of killing a Georgia teenager during an argument over loud music outside a Jacksonville convenience store.

Attorneys for 47-year-old Michael Dunn want to move the trial away from Jacksonville, citing widespread publicity about the case. Circuit Judge Russell Healey has said he'll decide whether to move the trial during jury selection.

Earlier, jurors found Dunn guilty of attempted second-degree murder and firing into an occupied vehicle. They deadlocked on the first-degree murder charge.

A Florida Senate panel backed a bill Thursday that will raise the state’s maximum highway speed limit to 75 mph, according to The Tampa Tribune

Jackson Memorial Hospital

A first-ever attempt at transplanting five organs in a child has succeeded far beyond the hopes of the family and doctors of 3-year-old Adonis Ortiz, who was born with his intestines outside his body. The Tampa baby and his parents went on camera at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami this week to talk about the historic transplant, carried out in October. Doctors now expect that Adonis can go home early next year, 10 News reports. 

The Senate Rules Committee on Monday narrowly approved a bill that could prohibit certain abortions now legal in Florida, sending the measure to the full Senate.

The committee supported, in a 6-5 party-line vote, a proposal (SB 918) by Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores that is intended to prevent abortions after fetuses reach the point of "viability." Flores said the bill won't hinder a woman's ability to get an abortion in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Florida Blue, the largest health insurer in the state, says it will reinstate 300,000 policies it was planning to cancel, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. Bowing to pressure, on Thursday President Barack Obama announced that individual policyholders who saw their insurance policies cancelled because they didn’t meet the standards under the Affordable Care Act could in fact keep their policies if the company was willing to offer them.

The Leapfrog Group has released its latest grades for hospitals across the country. No Florida hospital earned the lowest grade of F, while 70 hospitals earned an A.  

This one almost snuck past us, but the combination of a cute dog and a local innovator with a cool invention once again caught our eye -- just like it caught the attention of new "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon.

UnitedHealthcare, which sells AARP Medicare products including HMO-style Medicare Advantage plans, took out a full-page newspaper ad that blamed the decision to shrink provider networks in 2014 on reductions in federal funding. But as the Tampa Bay Times reports, payments from the federal government to Medicare Advantage plans will actually increase 3.3 percent next year. (Paywall after 15th click) 

Today, Oct. 15, is the first day of open enrollment for Medicare beneficiaries to choose their drug plan and HMO-style Medicare Advantage plan for 2014.  They can save money if they do some research, but if they don't, most will pay more this year. 

Researchers on Medicare enrollment predict that millions of beneficiaries will remain in their current plan rather than hassle with doing the research to see what has changed. And that would be a mistake, since so many plans are switching the drugs they cover or the premiums and co-pays they charge.

For the second time this week, a major figure at the University of South Florida announced his intent to retire in 2015.

Athletic Director Doug Woolard said on Thursday that he'll retire when his contract ends in June of next year. USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Arthur Guilford announced on Tuesday that he'll step down in January 2015.

But while the official statement from USF was filled with glowing words for Woolard, ESPN's Brett McMurphy cited unnamed sources in saying Woolard was actually being replaced because of "wide-ranging dissatisfaction" with the USF football and men's basketball programs.

However, others disagreed, saying Woolard wasn't forced out.

Law enforcement agencies have been less than successful in trying to stop the sale of synthetic drugs, also called "bath salts," which are pitched to kids under names such as "Scooby Snax" despite their danger. The dealers simply change the chemistry faster than the Legislature can pass laws against it. 

The Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio held a press conference at Gatorland, an Orlando tourist attraction, on Friday to denounce the Affordable Care Act for putting the employer in the position of offering more comprehensive coverage or laying people off. But the Rubio press release didn’t really explain why the premiums will go up.

The answer: The law requires insurance policies to meet the “minimum essential benefits” set by the government.

With a $3.6 million gift from a supremely successful alumnus, University of South Florida will launch a training program for medical residents who want to specialize in care of older patients, USF announced Friday in a press release.

The training program will be located in The Villages,  south of Ocala. USF Health is already conducting population-health studies in The Villages, the nation's largest retirement community.

Tons of health issues were brought up by the Florida Legislature this session. We've been paying close attention, and we're still sorting it all out.

That's where you come in. We want to know what questions you have about the health issues lawmakers dealt with during the session. 

Join us for a tweet chat on Thursday, May 9 at 12:15 p.m.  Make sure you're following us on Twitter  @HealthNewsFL and then tweet us your questions with the hashtag #HNFchat. 

Come join the discussion!

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