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Lottie Watts

Reporter/Producer

Lottie Watts is our Florida Matters producer, and she also covers health and health policy for Health News Florida.

She earned a master’s degree in journalism and media studies from University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where she was the editor and graduate assistant at the Neighborhood News Bureau. She earned a bachelor of science in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University, where she interned at WSTM-TV and WSYR-TV. Her work has been recognized by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists, Florida Associated Press Broadcasters, Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine State Awards, SPJ's Green Eyeshade Awards and RTDNA's Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards

Contact Lottie by email or phone: 813-974-8705. 

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Lottie Watts / WUSF

The 2016 Gasparilla pirate invasion and parade this past weekend wasn't quite as rowdy as in past years, according to numbers released Monday by the Tampa Police Department.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Gasparilla season continues this weekend with the annual pirate invasion and parade in downtown Tampa on Saturday and a concert Friday evening at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

As a mother, Anya Staton says her primary instinct is to feed her children.

So when her oldest son developed an eating disorder she knew he needed help -- help she didn't know how to give. 

And care the family's insurance company, through Florida's Medicaid program, denied the boy needed.

AP

On an upcoming Florida Matters, we're taking a look back 30 years ago, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded off the coast of Cape Canaveral, killing the seven crew members aboard.

Where were you during that unforgettable moment? Share your memories with us, and we may use your comments on the air. 

Lottie Watts / WUSF News

Florida's population of the iconic manatee has risen in recent years, so much so that federal  wildlife officials say they're no longer endangered, and could be down-listed to threatened by next year. 

Suncoast Tiger Bay Club

The Suncoast Tiger Bay Club recently hosted the mayors of St. Petersburg and Tampa for a conversation on the “State Of The Bay.”

This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 a.m.), we’re bringing you highlights of the discussion between Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Jan. 15 is the last day to sign up on HealthCare.gov for a plan that starts Feb. 1.  The deadline is key for avoiding tax penalties under the federal health law.

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off the 2016 Florida legislative session Tuesday morning with his annual State of the State address. This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 17 7:30 a.m.), we will bring you highlights of Scott’s address, along with part of the Democratic response.

Florida's annual legislative session gets under way today. WUSF News will bring you live coverage of the governor's State of the State address starting today at 11 a.m. This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 17 7:30 a.m.), we will feature highlights of the address, along with the Democratic response.  

President's Obama's top health administrator visited the Sunshine State as the deadline to sign up for health insurance nears.

Suncoast Tiger Bay Club

The Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosted the mayors of St. Petersburg and Tampa Friday morning at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club for a discussion of the “State of the Bay.”

A major theme of the discussion was the strength of the Tampa Bay region, and partnership over competition on planning, economic and transportation issues.

In previous legislative sessions, lawmakers have failed to make changes to the state employee group insurance. The issue is expected to come up again this session.

The 2016 Florida Legislative session starts Jan. 12, and this week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 10 at 7:30 a.m.), we are previewing some of the bills lawmakers are proposing.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Florida has a high number of uninsured, and federal officials say that's why the state has continuously led the nation in sign-ups on HealthCare.gov. Many Floridians who enrolled through the federal health insurance marketplace were buying insurance for the first time; more than 90 percent were eligible for tax subsidies to cover a portion of the monthly premium. 

Throughout the annual open enrollment periods under the federal health law, our continuing coverage looked at who is enrolling, the challenge to find the uninsured and ongoing issues with the website.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Florida has a high number of uninsured, and federal officials say that's why the state has continuously led the nation in sign-ups on HealthCare.gov. Many Floridians who enrolled through the federal health insurance marketplace were buying insurance for the first time; more than 90 percent were eligible for tax subsidies to cover a portion of the monthly premium. 

Throughout the annual open enrollment periods under the federal health law, our continuing coverage looked at who is enrolling, the challenge to find the uninsured and ongoing issues with the website.

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue

One person has died after a car crashed off a fishing pier near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Wednesday afternoon, according to Florida Highway Patrol.

Authorities have identified the driver, who was killed, as 52-year-old Richard K. McCrocklin, of Eustis.

The federal government has acknowledged that it wrongly declared more than 100 veterans dead and suspended their benefit payments, and says it is changing its policy of confirming deaths.

Robin Sussingham / WUSF News

As 2015 comes to a close, we are taking a look back at some of the discussions we brought you throughout the year.

Daylina Miller

How are people consuming news these days -- and how is that changing?

We recently welcomed an audience from Leadership Tampa into our studio for a taping of a Florida Matters discussion on media trends with Tampa Bay Business Journal special projects director Chris Wilkerson and USF Tampa journalism professor Wayne Garcia.

The latest numbers from federal health officials show Florida is continuing to lead in enrollment on HealthCare.gov, with nearly 600,000 who have signed up so far.

Florida is once again leading in enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace, and that success has caught the attention of HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan. 

Steve Newborn / WUSF

The U.S. recently reopened its embassy in Havana, but controversy over normalization continues. The Tampa Tiger Bay Club hosted a debate on the issue at the historic Centro Asturiano Club in Ybor City.

During this Thanksgiving week, we're taking a second listen to our show on  food, family and traditions. From passing on the recipe for French Canadian meat pie, to making the perfect rice and meeting the bakers who make award-winning pies in Lakeland, our reporters are taking you into the kitchen. 

The third year of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is now under way, and this week on Florida Matters (Sunday, Nov. 22 at 6:30 p.m.),  WUSF's Carson Cooper takes a look at some of the changes coming for health insurance in 2016 with Florida Covering Kids & Families Project Director Jodi Ray, Tampa health insurance agent Eric Brown and WUSF News Director and Health News Florida Editor Mary Shedden.

healthcare.gov

Enrollment is under way for plans on HealthCare.gov for the third year, and consumers are seeing many changes in the plans companies are offering. It’s not unlike what’s happening to employer-based insurance, which is how about half of all Americans get health care coverage.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

"Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History" airs this month on PBS stations across the country, and on WUSF-TV on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.

For much of this year, Sara Goodrich of Lakeland has gone without health insurance -- despite trying over and over again to complete enrollment on HealthCare.gov.

“For the last six months, all of the agents have been telling me something else is the issue. Resubmit here, there's an address error, it's your birthday, for some reason, that would affect my application, and I just said, I am trying to follow the rules here, and you guys aren't helping,’” she said. 

Department of Children and Families

Florida is on pace to have nearly as many child deaths this year as it did before the overhaul of its child welfare system last year. In about a quarter of those deaths, the Florida Department of Children and Families had prior contact with the family. 

  

Open enrollment on HealthCare.gov started Sunday, and federal health officials expect the third year of open enrollment to be more challenging than in previous years.

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.

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