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

State Challenged Over Move To Drop Children's Cardiac Standards

Oct 28, 2015

Attorneys representing four children with serious heart conditions have challenged a move by the Florida Department of Health to repeal cardiac-care standards related to a program that provides specialized services to children.

Governor Rick Scott says he wants an additional about $23 million to fund Florida’s child welfare agency—under scrutiny recently for its involvement in two high profile child abuse deaths.

In 1996, at just 20-years-old, artist Mariam Paré was shot while driving a friend’s car in Chicago.

  Xavier Francesco Medlin is only 11-days-old and detoxing from prescription drugs. His mother Hillary Medlin gazes down on him as she gives him a bottle, and baby Xavier starts to scream.

Most county health departments no longer offer services to pregnant women. But on Florida’s Space Coast, the opposite is true: The county health department offers 100 percent coverage for pregnant women.

The Florida Department of Children and Families is teaming up with the University of Central Florida to get more social workers with a four-year degree working in child welfare.

Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll told a Senate panel late last week that the state's child-protection system appears to have failed two Southwest Florida children whose bodies were found in recent days.

"In both these cases, there's no question we had system failure," Carroll told the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.

It's fall. Time to pick apples. For some of us, that's casual recreation, a leisurely stroll through picturesque orchards.

For tens of thousands of people, though, it's a paycheck. They drive hundreds of miles for the apple harvest in central Washington, western Michigan, the shores of Lake Ontario in upstate New York, and Adams County, Pa.

"The truth is, every apple that you see in the supermarket is picked by hand," says Philip Baugher, who runs a fruit tree nursery in Adams County.

Pharmacist Narender Dhallan winces as he looks at a computer screen in his drugstore on a recent morning. For the second time in two hours, he has to decide whether to fill a prescription and lose money or send his customer away.

This time it's for a generic antifungal cream that cost him $180 wholesale. The customer's insurance, however, will pay Dhallan only $60 to fill it.

"This used to be something that would happen once in a rare, rare while," Dhallan says. "Now it's becoming routine."

The Florida Department of Health laid out how much a new medical marijuana program could cost Monday. The agency would oversee the program if voters approve it under a possible 2016 ballot measure.

Florida is one of only three states where county public health departments employ obstetricians for pregnant women.

It’s a legacy of the 1990s, when Florida’s infant mortality rate was one of the worst in the nation. But this safety net is eroding.

It's open enrollment time for many people who have health insurance through their job, and Florida’s state employees are among those who are thinking about making changes to their plans.

A Senate Panel Tuesday approved a bill allowing concealed weapon permit holders to openly carry their guns. But with a couple of powerful special interest groups still up in the air, the proposal's future could be in doubt.

With sign-up season starting in less than two weeks, the Obama administration indicated on Monday that some long-awaited upgrades to the government's health insurance website could take more time before they're customer-ready.

Senate President Eyes Early Intervention In Childhood Disabilities

Oct 20, 2015

Led by Senate President Andy Gardiner, the 2016 Legislature will consider another increase in funding for Early Steps, which serves infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities and delays --- and which has been struggling to keep up with the demand for services.

Lawmakers Seek To Legalize Industrial Hemp

Oct 20, 2015

Two Democratic lawmakers have breathed new life into an effort to legalize hemp as an agricultural crop in Florida. Proponents of the program are pitching it as an economic boost to Florida.

One of the largest hospital systems in the Tampa Bay area is expanding its reach with the purchase of a Polk County hospital.

State Softens Stance On Screening For Children's Medical Services

Oct 19, 2015

Under orders from an administrative law judge, the Department of Health on Friday held a hearing on a controversial new method of determining eligibility for Children's Medical Services -- and offered a compromise that could allow the department to resume enrolling special-needs kids.

In a basement classroom on the University of South Florida campus, Joe Mullins is bringing the dead back to life.

The federal government is standing firm in its decision not to increase funding for indigent health care in Florida next year.

State health officials hoped the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would pony up more than $304 million in matching funds for a program called the Low Income Pool, down from a half billion this year.

One Jacksonville Senator isn't worried about the decrease in funds. At least for now.