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

Several cancer research centers are responding cautiously to Gov. Rick Scott's ultimatum to stop franchising their brands - or lose millions in state funding.

In letters to the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and the Shands Cancer Hospital in Gainesville, Scott told the centers they “may not franchise their name or brand to other private entities.”

He also said they “may not receive royalties or other remuneration from other entities in exchange for use of their name or brand,” according to the Miami Herald.

Why You Should Keep Medicines Out Of Summer Heat

Jul 11, 2012

As record-breaking temperatures sweep the nation, it's hard to keep anything cool, especially if the power goes out.

And, try as you might, it's hard to find health products — from prescription drugs to over-the-counter pain relievers — that don't caution against storage in high temperatures.

Hillsborough County is relocating more than a thousand county employees during the Republican National Convention.  You'll still be able to get permits or pay tickets - it just won't be at the usual downtown Tampa locations.

An estimated 65,000 people are making their way into Tampa during the convention, and that means many county employees will be making their way out.  

Health officials in Florida are struggling to contain a tuberculousis outbreak that's been described as one of the worst in 20 years.

It's been blamed for for 13 deaths and 99 illnesses. That includes six children, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Public health officials are coming under fire for not telling the public about the outbreak earlier.

The Affordable Care Act isn't just creating divides down political lines.

Citizens, health care providers, and business owners are falling on both sides of the issue-for all sorts of reasons. 

Recently WUSF spoke to two small business owners who have different views on how the federal health care law will affect them.

Alan Saylor is the owner of Saylor's Suncoast Water in Pinellas Park. He's a member of the National Federation of Independent Business, a small business association that lobbied against the Affordable Care Act. 

Tampa is getting graded on its level of health -- and the report card will be given out by none other than Dr. Oz.

The "Dr. Oz Show", a popular health program syndicated and broadcast nationwide, will be making a stop in Tampa on Thursday, July 12 to give 15 minute physicals to local residents.

Using tabletop blood test devices and Practice Fusion's Electronic Health Record system, Dr. Mehmet Oz will be giving free health screenings to about 1,000 people.

Medical data from the screenings will be analyzed on site and presented as a report card to the city of Tampa.

photostock /

What do you get when you combine America's favorite pastime with man's best friend? Bark in the Park.

Following the lead of many other baseball teams, the Tampa Bay Rays announced this week that on Aug. 5, Tropicana Field will host its first dog-friendly game.

During the 1:40 p.m. Rays-Oriels matchup, the stadium's tbt* Party Deck will be reserved for dogs and their owners.

Medicaid Expansion: Who's In? Who's Out?

Jul 6, 2012

In the week since the Supreme Court upheld almost all of President Obama's health care law, some of the biggest action has been on the Medicaid front, where the administration definitely lost.

Until last week, the Affordable Care Act was expected to drive an expansion of Medicaid to the tune of about 17 million more people being covered over the next 10 years.

The Affordable Care Act, as written, would have required states to provide Medicaid coverage to adults, whether they have children or not, with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

Summer Safety: Heat-Related Illnesses

Jul 3, 2012

You've been hearing about the record-breaking heat in parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. It's not quite as hot here, but hot enough to cause heat-related illnesses. 

Summer is the time for "fun in the sun." That means more people will be outside in the heat. Health officials are reminding people to be safe about it.

Heat-related illnesses like heat stress, exhaustion, and stoke are more common in these hotter temperatures. 

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act have derided it from the beginning as "Obamacare."

Recently, something interesting happened. Supporters of the ACA, even President Obama, began to adopt the term "Obamacare" as well.

At that point, "Obamacare" began being used by NPR as well as media outlets throughout the country.

But former University of Michigan professor and Sarasota resident Stephen Cooper wrote in to say why he thinks we still shouldn't use the term:

Gov. Rick Scott says he won't implement key parts of the federal health care law, including Medicaid expansion.

But what about the nearly one million Floridians who are currently uninsured? Will they end up paying higher taxes if they can't afford health insurance, but Medicaid is not an option for them.

Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett asked Scott what will happen to Florida's uninsured if Florida doesn't expand Medicaid.

"Are you telling me if Florida opts out...all people in Florida will still be able to get health care?” Jarrett asked.

Jonathan Cohn is a senior editor at The New Republic.

As it turns out, the scariest part of Thursday's ruling on the Affordable Care Act was the issue that got the least attention. Yes, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate and its associated reforms of private insurance. But it also ruled that the law's expansion of Medicaid was unconstitutional.

Does that mean the Medicaid expansion might not go forward? Does it mean that a significant number of low-income Americans will remain uninsured because they can't get into the program?

Florida was the lead plaintiff in the 27-state lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.

Now that the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court, Governor Rick Scott tells Fox News he will not implement it.

"We're not going to implement Obamacare in Florida," Scott said. "We're not going to expand Medicaid because we're going to do the right thing. We're not going to do the exchange."

He says the law is too costly for Floridians and bad policy, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Scott hopes the law will be repealed after the November election, if a new president is elected. He says even if that doesn't happen, Florida will not set up a health exchange or participate in an expansion of the Medicaid program.

Scott says the state can't afford to add an estimated 1 million people to the Medicaid rolls -- even with the federal government picking up 90 percent of the cost.

"We can't pay for that; there is no way Floridians can pay for that," he said.

Florida was the lead plaintiff in the 27-state lawsuit against the ACA. Now that it's been upheld by the Supreme Court, Governor Scott says he plans to fight certain parts of the law.

1.) Scott says he'll form a plan to deal with Medicaid expansion in the next few weeks.

Just after 10 a.m. on Thursday, a cheer went up at Hispanic Health Initiatives, a nonprofit in Casselberry, Fla., just north of Orlando.

The enthusiasm for the Supreme Court's decision to uphold nearly all of the federal health care law was unmistakable at the nonprofit, which advocates for health care for the local Latino population.

The news took Josephine Mercado, the nonprofit's founder and executive director, by surprise — and changed her plans for Friday.

Dr. Jay Wolfson, a health care law expert with the University of South Florida and Stetson University talks about the Supreme Court's decision and the effect it will have on Floridians.

The Supreme Court's decision on whether to uphold the Affordable Care Act is being called the "decision of the century." 

It's expected to be announced tomorrow whether the high court will uphold the law,throw it out, or discard parts of it.

Jay Wolfson is an expert in healthcare law at the University of South Florida and Stetson University. 

If you thought sharks were the scariest threat at the beach, you might consider the lowly bacteria lurking in shore waters instead.

Courtesy of Purdue University

If you don't already hate Tropical Storm Debby, just wait. 

All the standing water from Debby will soon spawn pesky, disease-carrying mosquitoes,according to Steve Huard, Public Information Officer with Hillsborough County Health Department.

"So the community really needs to kind of get ready and think about the risks associated with all the mosquitoes that will be out and about and make sure they have their mosquito repellent with DEET in it and just be ready for the next onslaught," Huard said. 

He says the mosquitoes should be here in a couple of days. 

Dr. Ruben Quintero, who pioneered a surgery to correct twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and once directed USF's Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is now on the University of Miami team making international headlines for this groundbreaking procedure.