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.

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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