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

The Ocheesee Creamery in the Florida Panhandle produces all-natural skim milk from grass-fed cows with absolutely nothing added, yet the state says they have to call it "imitation."

Battle Over Abortion Clinics Heats Up

Aug 20, 2015

A fight between Planned Parenthood and Gov. Rick Scott's administration escalated on Wednesday, with state health officials saying three clinics can continue to operate but remain under investigation for allegedly performing illegal second-trimester abortions.

In a small room covered with posters for diabetes prevention and free eye clinics, and a physician’s desk stacked with papers, Karen Cascone meets with her nurse practitioner.

Thousands of seniors in the Tampa Bay area may be helping train the next generation of health professionals.

Planned Parenthood says three of its Florida clinics can resume performing first-trimester abortions after reaching an agreement with state health officials.

Snake-hunters take note: Authorities are expanding Florida's next public hunt for invasive Burmese pythons into Everglades National Park.

St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach is closing its infant cardiac-surgery program following media reports about a series of deaths.

Young people with health problems left uncared for in adolescence face higher risks of leading unhealthy lives as adults, a new study finds.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug designed to increase a woman's libido.

The controversial decision was hailed by some doctors and advocates as a long-sought victory for women's health, but was condemned by others as irresponsible and dangerous.

The head of Florida’s health department is making his way through the Florida Panhandle as part of a tour of the state's coastal areas. Bay County residents are invited to take part in the latest stop in the “Health in All Places Tour,” highlighting the county’s health services.

Florida’s state-based insurance exchange is gearing up for open enrollment later this year. Florida Health Choices is reaching out to professionals licensed by the state, as well as realtors, to grow its numbers.

Senate 'Primary Care' Plan Cuts Out Insurers

Aug 18, 2015

A Senate Republican on Monday filed a proposal that could help lead to doctors and patients entering "direct primary care agreements" that would cut out insurers.

Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, filed the bill (SB 132), which largely mirrors a bill (HB 37) filed early this month by Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach. The measures will be considered during the 2016 legislative session, which starts in January.

The House during a June special session approved a direct primary-care bill, but the Senate did not take up the measure.

Planned Parenthood fired back Monday against allegations that three Florida abortion clinics provided second-trimester abortions without proper licenses, seeking an emergency injunction against the state Agency for Health Care Administration "to protect women's access to safe, legal abortion."

Three Floridians are looking at stretches in prison after pleading guilty to a conspiracy to acquire and distribute the illegal synthetic drug known as "spice."

All three are from the Tampa area. Pleading guilty to a pair of federal drug conspiracy charges were 28-year-old Ahmed Yehia Khalifa and 25-year-old Ahmed Maher Elhelw. They face up to 20 years in prison on each charge and have agreed to forfeit more than $472,000 in assets.

Biotech Institute To Close After State Incentives

Aug 17, 2015

The cash-strapped Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida, which a decade ago was part of the state's drive to bring more biotech jobs to Florida, is closing.

A notice posted Friday on the non-profit biomedical-research institute's website said its board of directors intends to wind down operations by Oct. 1, with the remaining 34 employees being laid off over the next six weeks.

Justices To Weigh Doctor's Care Before Patient Suicide

Aug 17, 2015

The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments next month in a medical-malpractice dispute that focuses on whether a family physician provided adequate care before a patient committed suicide.

The court released a schedule Thursday that said arguments in the Sarasota County case will be heard Sept. 2. The case stems from the October 2008 death of Jacqueline Granicz, who was a patient of family physician Joseph Chirillo and had been treated for depression.

Court Rejects Law On Payments To Private Hospitals

Aug 17, 2015

An appeals court Friday ruled that part of a 2003 state law directing Sarasota County to reimburse private hospitals for indigent care is unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld a circuit judge's finding that the requirement was an unconstitutional "special law" because it would single out private hospitals in Sarasota County for the reimbursements.

The nation's chief doctor said he doesn't regret saying gun violence is a public health issue, calling his difficult confirmation process a consequence of speaking out.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Saturday that the backlash from his gun-control statement was disappointing but not a surprise.

He was confirmed in December in the face of opposition from the National Rifle Association, which was a rare defeat for the powerful gun lobby.

The Pine Manor Improvement Association’s annual teen culinary class recently graduated 8 students. The three week course teaches teens cooking basics and the importance of sustainable farming by using the community’s own garden.

Each student gets a cookbook and a set of cooking utensils to sharpen their new skills.

The Pine Manor Improvement Association’s culinary classes are the brainchild of Florida Gulf Coast University professor Chef James Fraser.

He founded ICARE – or The Institute for Culinary Awareness Research & Education. Fraser recognized a desperate need in Pine Manor, which is considered a food desert, an area with limited or no access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods.

With the first day of school right around the corner, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam wants more parents and students to take advantage of a Back-to-School app.