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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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politifact.com

As the pool of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination grows, so do the claims about the candidates.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is featured in an infographic -- or meme -- making the rounds on social media titled “Five Things You Need To Know About Jeb Bush.”

The political group Ultraviolet, which advocates for women's rights, is behind this one.

If you're talking about older people and sex, you have to talk to Kate GeMeiner.

"I'm also known as Doctor Truth, the Condom Lady," the 85-year-old says.

GeMeiner lives in Broward County, and spends a lot of her time at senior centers, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Gov. Rick Scott's Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding's "Spotlight Transparency Tour" kicked off Wednesday morning, placing Tampa Bay area executives on the hot seat.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

To most Floridians, manatees are cute, docile creatures that hang out in crowded springs, and often get too close to boats -- or rather, boats get too close to them. But down on the other side of the Florida Straits, they sometimes end up on someone's dinner table.

WUSF's Steve Newborn recently tagged along with Dr. James “Buddy” Powell of Sea to Shore Alliance -- a Sarasota-based conservation group -- on an expedition to Cuba to find out how manatees are doing in the waters off the island.

Daylina Miller / WUSF

The next White House Conference on Aging - which is aimed at finding new ways to improve the lives of older Americans - will take place July 13 in Washington, D.C. 

Health care spending was the defining issue of the 2015 Florida legislative session. 

The Florida House and Senate were miles apart on the issue, and the disagreement sent the regular session to a screeching halt earlier this month.

On Monday, lawmakers will return to Tallahassee for a special session to try to pass a budget, but lawmakers appear no closer to an agreement on health spending, especially when it comes to an alternative to Medicaid expansion.

politifact.com

The 2015 Florida legislative session came screeching to a halt three days early, when House and Senate lawmakers could not agree on health care funding.

The House wants no part of Medicaid expansion. The Senate has warmed up to the idea of a type of expansion that would steer federal dollars into private healthcare plans. They'll try to get this worked out during a special session that’s scheduled to begin Monday, June 1.

One of the arguments against Medicaid expansion is that Florida takes billions more from Washington, D.C.  than it gives - and that the money being offered to Florida isn't Florida's to take.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

June 6, 2015 will mark the 71st anniversary of D-Day, the historic military landing at Normandy during World War II. 

This week on Florida Matters, we a look at D-Day through the eyes of a C-47 pilot who was there.  First Lt. Gerald “Bud” Berry was among those who flew paratroopers behind enemy lines in the hours before the beach invasion. 

 Lawmakers are heading back to Tallahassee on June 1 for a three-week special session.

The Florida Legislature was unable to agree on a single balanced budget during the regular session, which the House sent screeching to a halt three days early.

The divide between the two chambers was sparked by the likely loss of more than $1 billion in federal Low Income Pool money for hospitals that is to set to expire June 30.

Authorities say a 16-month-old north Florida girl died when her father left her in the car after forgetting to drop her off at day care.

It's the second hot car death reported in the nation in 2015, and the first in Florida. 

Columbia County Sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call Tuesday afternoon and found the child was unresponsive.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement identified the child's mother as Wendy Kwon, an assistant state attorney, and her father as Young Kwon, an assistant public defender.

Jim Webb

The Tampa Theatre recently hosted "Enchanted Earth: An Evening with Syliva Earle and Meg Lowman." The conversation with two of America’s most beloved explorers and conservationists was moderated by  was moderated by WUSF's Susan Giles Wantuck.

Car stopped at the edge of a severed Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
State Archives of Florida

May 9 marks the 35th anniversary of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge accident that killed 35 people.

A memorial for the victims will be unveiled Saturday at 11 a.m. at Blackthorn Memorial Park in St. Petersburg.

Bill DeYoung of St. Petersburg , who wrote a book about the Skyway disaster, is behind the effort to build a memorial.

"We did a fundraising campaign and raised all the money in about a month, from the community. The state didn't pay for anything, I should say, and the whole cost was about $10,000,” he said.

Federal health officials have awarded more than $5 million in grants to 10 health centers in Florida to serve newly insured patients under the Affordable Care Act.

The grants are expected to serve about 46,000 patients, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The “Access Point” grants are going to:

Banyan Community Health Center, Inc.                 Miami                   $703,602

It was Friday, May 9, 1980 at 7:33 a.m. when the freighter Summit Venture rammed into the Sunshine Skyway Bridge during a severe storm.  The roadway above crashed into the waters of Tampa Bay. Though the blinding rain, drivers in the southbound lanes were unable to see the missing roadway ahead.  Six cars, a truck, and a Greyhound Bus plunged into the waters below, and 35 people were killed.

 

 The latest Hospital Safety Scores released by the not-for-profit watchdog Leapfrog Group show almost half of general, acute-care hospitals in Florida earned an A.

The group calculates the grades twice a year on using data on errors, injuries, accidents and infections, and posts the results in a searchable database.

Out of the 165 Florida hospitals they graded, 77 got an A.

Thursday, April 30 is the last day for people in Florida and the three dozen other states that use the federal health insurance marketplace to buy a health insurance plan on HealthCare.gov.  

AP

 Tickets are on sale to the public for the Tampa Bay Rays three-game series this weekend against the Baltimore Orioles.

The series was originally scheduled for Oriole Park at Camden Yards, but has been relocated to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg due to protests and violence in Baltimore. 

AP

Amid violence in Baltimore, the Orioles weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays -- originally scheduled for May 1 -3  in Baltimore -- will now be played in at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, with the Orioles serving as the home team.

The Orioles have also postponed a second straight game against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday after a night of rioting near Camden Yards.

The team announced later Tuesday that the Orioles-White Sox series would resume on Wednesday at 2:05 p.m. but that the game would be closed to the public.

People in Florida and the three dozen other states that use the online federal insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov have a little time left to shop for health insurance.

This special enrollment period for insurance plans under the federal health law runs through Thursday, April 30.

It’s for people who didn't know -- or understand -- that they could face a tax penalty for not having health coverage, according to federal officials.

Doug Parton / DP Photography

 The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments April 28 on the issue of same-sex marriage.  

Several cases from Cases from Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky have been combined into one case, known as Obergefell v. Hodges.

Since 2005, monthly health insurance premiums for state workers in Florida have stayed the same.

But a bill making its way through the Florida House could make big changes to the state group employee health plan, which covers more than 300,000 state employees and their families.

Right now, workers pay $50 dollars a month for individual coverage, or $180 dollars a month for their family. That’s a fraction of the cost most people who have health insurance through a private employer.

politifact.com

 

  As debate over Indiana's new religious freedom law continues -- with one side saying it allows discrimination against gays and the other saying it protects one's right to observe their religious beliefs -- former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is defending Indiana's law.

And he says  Florida has its own version of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

AP

In Florida and in Tampa Bay, ties to Cuba run very deep. In March, federal officials participated in a forum with community leaders in Tampa to discuss what may lie ahead, as some restrictions on travel and trade have been eased under changes announced earlier this year by the Obama administration.

Some Tampa Bay area business leaders have wanted better relations with Cuba for years. What lies ahead as relations between Cuba and the United States are changing? 

Steve Newborn / WUSF

On April 5, WUSF-TV will air the first part of the new Ken Burns’ documentary “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.”  

AP

Florida is one of 20 states that specifically bans firearms on college campuses, but the Florida Legislature is moving toward allowing guns on campuses.

A group that advocates for concealed carry of firearms on campuses recently told lawmakers that alligator attacks are more common than "attacks" by those with a gun permit.

The Obama administration said Friday it's making progress trying to correct a tax-form error that affected 820,000 customers of HealthCare.gov.

Administration officials said 740,000 corrected forms have gone out to consumers in the federal insurance marketplace, and another 80,000 will be mailed next week.

politifact.com

As attention centers on Hillary Clinton’s email records, one left-leaning political action committee is reminding folks about a communication flap from another potential presidential candidate -- former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Bush famously used his personal email address during his eight years as governor, and he recently posted them online. But the American Bridge 21st Centry PAC says Bush handpicked which emails to disclose.

According to Josh Gillin with PolitiFact Florida, the PAC's claim is Mostly True. 

In the coming weeks, public television stations across Florida will air a new documentary by Ken Burns. "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies" aims to tell the complete story of cancer, from the first accounts from ancient Egypt to modern research facilities, and the stories of patients.

Several million Americans hit with new federal fines for going without health insurance are getting a second chance to sign up, and that could ease the sting of rising penalties for being uninsured.

But as the enrollment window reopened on Sunday in Florida and the 36 other states that use the federal health insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov, it’s unclear how many know about the time-limited opportunity, let alone will take advantage of it.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Nearly 1,000 miles in 70 days -- that's how long a trio of wildlife enthusiasts are traversing the state, from Central Florida to the Alabama state line. 

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