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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

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U.S. News & World Report is out with its annual list of the county's best hospitals.

The magazine evaluated treatment centers on death rates, patient-to-nurse ratio, hospital reputation and other criteria. Top billing went to Massachusetts General in Boston.

Across the state of Florida, at least 104 cases of Tuberculosis have been documented.

These cases are believed to have started among the homeless population in Duval County.

North Florida has reported the most cases, while Miami-Dade, Pinellas and St. Lucie counties have confirmed two cases each, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Obama and his allies have been criticized for not “selling” the idea of a broad overhaul of the health care system.

They reasoned that as more people understood the benefits, approval would rise, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

But two years after Obama signed the bill it into law, there's been little sign of that.

The city of Tampa got a health check Thursday morning from none other than Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Tampa was just one of several stops on the list for the "Dr. Oz Show," a popular health program syndicated and broadcast nationwide.

Oz met with only a handful of contest winners, but volunteers at the Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute checked each person's blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and waist size according to Tampa Bay Online.

Around 700 people were given 15 minute physicals and around 2,300 people completed a 40-question health questionnaire.

From the data collected, Oz came to a few conclusions about the health of Tampa Bay.

It’s a story he’s waited 11 years to tell.

Blair Hamrick is a former GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical sales rep. He was fired after blowing the whistle on  the company -- and now, he will be awarded a significant chunk of cash.

GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to pay $3 billion dollars after an investigation by the U.S Department of Justice. It revealed the company encouraged employees to sell prescription drugs off-label.

Just as Florida leaders ramp up state efforts to woo business and industry leaders during the Republican National Convention,  the state’s desirability for doing business has dropped dramatically according to a new poll.

The CNBC America’s Top States for Business Study in 2012 ranks Florida 29th out of 50 among business friendly states. That is a plunge of 11 spots. Florida ranked 18th  in 2011 CNBC study.

The president of Florida A&M University submitted his resignation today - the same day the university was sued by parents of a drum major who died during a hazing.

James Ammons announced the resignation, which takes effect Oct. 11, in a letter to the chairman of the university's governing board. He said his decision came after "considerable thought, introspection and conversations with my family."

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 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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
Dreamstime

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.

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