Health News Florida

Since 2006, Health News Florida has provided in-depth journalism on health policy issues in our state.

Health News Florida is a project of WUSF Public Media in Tampa and is heard on public radio stations throughout Florida. It also is available online at http://health.wusf.usf.edu

When Linda Porter listens to Foreigner or Styx, she thinks of her own long-haired guitarist, Pete Thomas.

Pete, her son, died 12 years ago in a New Port Richey hospital. When Porter attends rock concerts now, she imagines Pete's right there with her in the crowd.

Consumers skeptical about the real cost of health care will soon have a resource where they can ask and share with their neighbors the price of common medical procedures.

Senate Backs Bill To Regulate Guardians

Feb 11, 2016

With supporters saying the measure would help protect seniors, the Florida Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill (SB 232) that would lead to regulation of professional guardians.

Sponsor Nancy Detert, R-Venice, said such guardians can take over seniors' medical and financial decisions but have been unregulated. She said that can lead to professional guardians taking advantage of seniors.

"This is a nationwide problem,'' Detert said.

If you’re wondering why there’s so much legal fighting over medical marijuana licenses in Florida, here’s a billion-dollar answer.

According to the State of Legal Marijuana Markets report, legal marijuana in the U.S. is projected to grow to a $21.8 billion industry by 2020. And Florida is a big part of that projection.

Federal health officials have sent the state of Florida an additional 950 kits to test for viral antibodies in people who have shown Zika symptoms after traveling to affected countries.

Gov. Rick Scott’s office released a statement Tuesday saying none of the 16 Zika cases confirmed in Florida were contracted in the state, and none involve pregnant women.

Bill Could Carve Out Medicaid Dental Benefits

Feb 10, 2016

Despite opposition from the committee chairman, a House panel Tuesday approved a bill that could lead to revamping children's dental care in the Medicaid program.

The House Health & Human Services Committee voted 11-2 to approve the bill (HB 819), sponsored by state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami. Chairman Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, and state Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, cast the dissenting votes.

'Direct Primary Care' Draws Senate Questions

Feb 10, 2016

Senators raised questions Tuesday about a bill that could help doctors and patients enter into what are known as "direct primary care" agreements.

The proposal, which has been moving through the House and Senate, would make clear that direct-primary care agreements are not covered by state insurance laws. Under the agreements, patients or their employers would make monthly payments to doctors for primary-care services, cutting out the role of insurers.

Florida Court Hears Case Challenging Abortion Law

Feb 10, 2016

Florida's First District Court of Appeal is deciding whether they should lift an order that blocked a state law requiring a 24-hour waiting period for abortions.

The three-judge panel heard arguments Tuesday from the attorney general's office and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. The state filed the complaint after two judges blocked the law last July when it was supposed to take effect.

When Carolyn Coyne's lab at the University of Pittsburgh recently tried to order a sample of Zika virus from a major laboratory supplier, they were told it was out of stock.

"They are actually back-ordered until July for the virus," Coyne says. "At least that's what we were told." She ended up obtaining Zika from another source, and it arrived at her lab Tuesday.

WellCare Profits Inch Up In Fourth Quarter

Feb 9, 2016

Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans, which covers about 900,000 Floridians in the Medicaid and Medicare programs, saw an uptick in net income during the fourth quarter of 2015, according to an earnings report released Tuesday.

Bill Seeks To Boost Hospitals In Rural Areas

Feb 9, 2016

A Senate committee Tuesday approved a bill that could help boost efforts to build new or replacement hospitals in rural counties.

Approved by the Senate Health Policy Committee, SB 236 would expand an exemption to the state's "certificate of need" regulatory process for hospital construction or expansion projects. The state currently has a narrow exemption that applies to hospitals in counties with populations of 15,000 to 18,000 people and densities of fewer than 30 people per square mile.

Legislation requiring a unanimous verdict from the jury to recommend the death penalty will head to the state Senate floor after passing a committee vote Monday.

House Members Back Pot For Terminal Patients

Feb 9, 2016

Continuing to consider how many nurseries should take part in the industry, a House panel Monday approved a bill that would allow patients with terminal illnesses to legally use medical marijuana.

Telehealth, Transparency Move Forward In House

Feb 9, 2016

A House panel Monday approved a pair of bills aimed at increasing the use of "telehealth" to remotely provide medical services and at offering greater transparency in health-care costs.

Eight states, including Florida,  saw a significant drop last year in the number of residents going without health insurance, according to a government report out Tuesday that has implications for the presidential campaign.

A South Florida clinic that promotes controversial stem-cell treatments for a wide range of ailments is among the centers receiving a written warning that it is violating federal public health laws.

Central Florida has gotten its first confirmed case of the travel-related Zika virus. Osceola County is one of seven Florida counties with CDC-confirmed cases. 

Florida Ends Enrollment With 1.7M Sign Ups

Feb 8, 2016

About 12.7 million Americans enrolled in private health insurance through the federal and state marketplaces for 2016, the Obama administration said Thursday.

Florida is leading the nation once again in enrollment, with 1,742,819 new and returning customers on HealthCare.gov.

State Surgeon General John Armstrong, who heads the Florida Department of Health, has faced scrutiny from lawmakers recently on a number of high-profile issues. The issues include the state's rising HIV rate, cuts to county health departments and 9,000 kids who lost places in the Children's Medical Services program --- which serves youngsters with "serious and chronic" conditions --- under a new eligibility screening process last year.

A Second Amendment group is asking the state Supreme Court to take up a legal dispute about whether guns should be allowed in residence halls and other housing at the University of Florida.

Pages