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

Smokable Marijuana Sold Over Lawmakers’ Objections

May 11, 2017

Even while Florida lawmakers have insisted they do not want patients to smoke pot, one of the state's seven licensed medical-marijuana vendors on Tuesday began selling whole-flower cannabis.

A dispute over cuts to hospitals is one of the reasons Florida lawmakers had to postpone their final votes on the new state budget to this week. It was finally approved and sent to Governor Rick Scott, where its future is uncertain. Health News Florida's Stephanie Colombini talks about those hospital cuts and other key health issues this session with Kathleen McGrory, health reporter for the Tampa Bay Times.


Kathy Kino has been helping people during some of their most vulnerable times since she began volunteering at a hospital when she was 13. She worked as a trauma nurse and a hospital chaplain for more than 15 years, and now she’s a nursing professor.

This is National Nurses Week, and Kino spoke with WLRN about how becoming a patient herself changed the way she thinks about her profession:

Gerry Realin wishes he had never become a police officer.

Realin was part of the Hazmat team that responded to the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando. He spent four hours taking care of the dead inside the club. Now, triggers like a marker or a white sheet yank him out of the moment and back to Pulse.

‘LIP’ Money May Be Closer To $1 Billion

May 10, 2017

While Gov. Rick Scott's administration has reached agreement with the federal government on as much as $1.5 billion for the Low Income Pool program, the actual amount going to hospitals in the coming year could be closer to $1 billion, a key lawmaker said this week.

A leader behind last year's passage of a constitutional amendment on medical marijuana in Florida has joined growing calls for Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders to hold a special session to finalize rules for its implementation.

Appeals Court Upholds Workers’ Comp Rate Hike

May 10, 2017

Rejecting arguments that Florida's Sunshine Law was violated, an appeals court Tuesday upheld a 14.5 percent increase in workers' compensation insurance rates that began to hit businesses in December.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum said he’ll pass legislation to strengthen health insurance provisions if he’s elected governor. Gillum says his proposed legislation was prompted by the U.S. House vote repealing the Affordable Care Act last week.

Florida’s Senate President is considering bringing lawmakers back to Tallahassee to strike a deal on medical marijuana. A plan to roll out the state’s new rules unraveled at the end of session.

Some nursing home representatives are cheering the delay of a state legislative proposal that would have changed how Medicaid funds flow to assisted living facilities in Florida.

Right now, facilities bill the state for care and are reimbursed. The plan would allott the homes a flat rate.

A bill adding more drugs to Florida’s prescription-medicine price database is heading to Governor Rick Scott’s desk for his signature.

The measure was sponsored by two Jacksonville lawmakers: Rep. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville, and Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach.


Julio Ochoa/WUSF

The Republican health care proposal passed by the U.S. House last week would cut $800 billion from Medicaid over the next decade.

The Legislature is leaving town without addressing a dramatic spike in workers’ compensation premiums, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran is blaming Senate Republicans.

As of Monday, more than 2,000 wildfires had burned throughout Florida since the start of this year, and state officials say more than a 120 wildfires continue to burn.

The Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is now in the U.S. Senate. The legislation cuts state funding for the medical care of low-income people. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, said he doesn’t support the proposal.

A handful of Pulse survivors have teamed up with One Blood to promote blood donations.

One Blood says it took 441 units to treat Pulse victims.

Jeff Xavier is one of them. He was shot four times and needed more than 40 units of blood.

“The people helped save us. These are random people, I don’t know who those 40 plus people are,” said Xavier. “And they’re all from different races, nationalities and backgrounds, and a little bit of each of them is the reason why I’m here speaking with you today.”

The state budget includes deep cuts to hospitals that serve the poor and lawmakers are betting on federal money to help offset the losses.

Leaders Battle Over Marijuana Bill Failure

May 9, 2017

With its fate now in the hands of state health officials, Republican legislative leaders are blaming each other for failing to create a framework for carrying out a voter-approved constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

Florida will eliminate taxes charged on tampons under a measure passed by the state Legislature.

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast has unveiled a proposal that would speed up the completion of Everglades restoration projects, including a massive reservoir system south of Lake Okeechobee approved by the Florida Legislature this year.

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