Podcast: Health News Florida Archives

Sex Doesn’t Get Safer With Age
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."And I ask the seniors: How old do you think you are when you stop thinking about sex? And they all say, when you're dead,” she says with a laugh. “Or they'll say things like when the casket is closed or something like that." Her joke’s not far from the truth. A 2013 New England Journal of Medicine study on sex and seniors found more than half of people ages 64 to 75 reported having sex in the previous year.There’s a consequence for that sexual activity. Older people, like anyone who's having unprotected sex, are at risk of getting sexually transmitted infections, and HIV. In 2013, when Florida led the nation in the number of new HIV cases, nearly a quarter of those diagnosed were age 50 and older.
Florida Faces A Rising Tide Of HIV Infection
Everyone thinks HIV happens to someone else. It only infects men who are having sex with men, they say. Or HIV drug users. And while that still accounts for about half of all people infected, those who are being diagnosed with this serious sexually transmitted disease don’t fall into simple categories. They’re young and old, straight, gay and transgender, of every race. A total of 5,377 Floridians were diagnosed with HIV in 2013, according to the Florida Department of Health. That number is higher than anywhere else in the nation. Here’s some perspective. When it comes to the presence of HIV in Florida, the state’s six largest metropolitan areas could be states unto themselves.
Entrepreneurs Pitch Mobile Apps Geared To Seniors
Mary Theresa Anderson is sitting in the back of a Miami Beach Convention Center ballroom, listening as entrepreneurs pitch health apps geared toward her and other retirees. The former trauma nurse from Maryland follows along as venture capitalists drill aspiring businessmen and women about products offering brain exercises, real-time health monitoring, even online vitamin delivery. From FitBits to smartphone calorie counters, mobile health apps are one the fastest-growing parts of today’s booming health care industry.
Punishment for Fatal Error a Tough Call
Ever since a Florida surgeon cut off the wrong leg by accident 20 years ago, the health-care industry has been scrambling to prevent such errors in the operating room. But tragic mistakes still happen.
Debt, Not Dreams Deciding Dentists' Future
Florida is lacking dentists in rural, low-income areas, but graduating dental students are not flocking to this little towns to set up practices. The reason? It's hard to make money and students often graduate with large loans looming over their shoulders.
House Packet on Medicaid Called Misleading
Last week, Florida's Legislature came to a screeching halt over health care. The dispute is keeping the House and Senate from agreeing on a state budget...the one job the Legislature must do each year. Health News Florida Editor Mary Shedden recently spoke with special correspondent Carol Gentry. She recently wrote an analysis looking at why many House members oppose their colleagues in the senate, and how their position may not change before a special session convenes in Tallahassee next month.
Traditional Medicine Surviving in a Western World
It's been 40 years since the fall of Saigon. Many migrants who fled came to Central Florida, and one custom that came with the Vietnamese is traditional medicine. But some fear this ancient practice is fading.
What It's Like To Be In The Health Coverage Gap In Florida
The Affordable Care Act was originally supposed to cover a lot more people in Florida than it has. When Florida chose not to expand Medicaid, about 850,000 people were left without insurance. Miami resident Cynthia Louis is one of the thousands in this health care limbo called the “coverage gap,” where they don’t get Medicaid and they don't qualify for subsidies to afford insurance.
State Worker Health Premiums May Change
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.
Surfing and Cancer: The Story of One Patient
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. On Saturday, March 28, WUSF News and Health News Florida will present a screening of the documentary, and a Florida Matters panel discussion on the past, present and future of cancer. The event is free, and you can register online here. One of the panelists is Joshua Rivera, who was 27 when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s soft-cell sarcoma. He has been cancer-free for more than five years.
Music Soothes As Alzheimer's Cure Sought
Dozens of studies have shown that music therapy can be effective in treating some of the effects of Alzheimer's disease. It's a form of therapy offered by many Alzheimer's care centers to the nearly half a million Floridians with the disease. But it's not a cure.
Medicaid Expansion Touted as Good for Business
The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and other businesses are part of a growing coalition tired of seeing legislators decline roughly $5 billion in federal money a year for health coverage. The money is tied to Obamacare, anathema to Republican leaders in Florida’s House of Representatives.
Concussion Fears Starting to Reach Younger South Florida Athletes
Rcreational leagues, schools and athletic associations have gotten more serious about athlete head injuries. While the Florida High School Athletic Association did not make the headgear mandatory for women's soccer, though it did make specialized headbands mandatory for lacrosse. But at Fort Lauderdales' St. Thomas Aquinas High School, the girl's soccer coach decided to make the headbands mandatory for their team.
Love In the Air at ‘Camp Widow’
It's almost Valentine's Day and reminders to buy roses, chocolates or jewelry for that special someone are everywhere. And for those whose spouses and partners have died, all that commercialized romance just plain hurts.
USF Receives Anti-MRSA Compound Patent
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, is one of the most dangerous infections around, thanks to its resistance to most treatments, and its ability to easily spread to patients in high-risk areas such as hospitals and nursing homes. Microbiologists and chemists at the University of South Florida have received a U.S. patent for a synthetic compound they developed that shows promise in fighting the infection.
$500M in New Nursing Home Beds Coming
Nursing home beds have been in short supply in Florida for more than a decade. But the Agency for Health Care Administration on Friday will authorize its top picks to add another 3,100 spots across the state.
Telemedicine For Haiti: The University Of Miami Makes Trauma More Survivable
Haiti is no stranger to trauma – as we were reminded on Tuesday, when a power-line accident and the ensuing panic killed 16 people during Carnival celebrations in Port-au-Prince. We need no reminding that Haiti is still recovering from a 2010 earthquake that killed as many as 300,000 people. During those catastrophic moments five years ago, it was hard to imagine a silver lining. But an important benefit did emerge – one, in fact, that may have saved some lives this week after the Carnival tragedy.
Billions at Stake as State, Feds Negotiate Medicaid
When the 2015 legislative session begins next week, many of the state’s decisions on health care for the poor are on hold as state and federal Medicaid officials negotiate over funding, behind closed doors. Billions of dollars are at stake.
Health News Florida: Free Clinics Beat Insurance, for Some
With open enrollment for health insurance ending in just two weeks, the push is on to get everyone who qualifies signed up. But some of the uninsured are balking, and it’s not only the so-called “young invincibles” who think they don’t need it.
Health News Florida: Plans, Choices Changing in Year Two
Back in November, Phil Ammann of St. Petersburg was figuring out what he was going to do for health insurance. He found himself having to select a new plan, since the plan he bought on HealthCare.gov, was no longer going to be an option in 2015. He wasn't the only Floridian going back to re-enroll in a plan. According to federal health officials, 51 percent of the 673,255 Floridians who enrolled during the first weeks of enrollment were returning customers.
Health News Florida: Rebuilding Haiti, Five Years Later
Five years ago Monday, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, toppling landmarks, killing tens of thousands of people, and displacing more than a million. In those first weeks, hundreds of injured Haitians were flown to Florida hospitals for treatment. And for months, nurses, doctors and others across the state worked in makeshift hospitals in Haiti, offering whatever medical care they could. But the need for help hasn't stopped. Medical and humanitarian efforts continue.
Health News Florida: Heroin ODs Spike After Pill Mill Crackdown
Five years ago, Florida was labeled the prescription drug capital of the U.S. Seven people died every day from overdoses – until the Florida Legislature started a crackdown. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program made opiate pills more expensive on the street, and left many addicts with a choice: Get treatment, or find a substitute. Credit Florida Department of Law Enforcement But there’s a downside in the drop in prescription drug use. Overdoses and deaths from heroin are on the rise in Florida.
Health News Florida: Shot Can Rescue Heroin Overdose Victims
Patient advocates say many deaths from accidental overdoses of prescription painkillers or heroin could be averted simply and at little expense if there were wider distribution of a drug the drug called nalaxone, or its better known brand name of Narcan.
Young Adults Remain Enrollment Challenge
Though many students can rely on their parents for coverage, plenty still need to buy their own plans, mostly on the HealthCare.gov federal insurance marketplace, said Susanna Perez-Field, program coordinator for the Student Health Services Insurance Office at USF. Enrollment for 2015 is under way until Feb. 15.
Re-Enrolling for Health Insurance? Expect Change
Open enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace starts in two days, on Nov. 15. The Health News Florida team is kicking off a series about the second year of open enrollment under the federal health law. First, we take a look at HealthCare.gov, the website that people in Florida and 36 other states use to buy a health insurance plan. This year, open enrollment runs for three months, until Feb. 15, 2015.
Health News Florida: Small Firms May Not Want to SHOP
Brooke and Andrew Lee can't imagine being without health insurance. So for the past seven years, that's meant digging deep into the earnings of their video production agency in St. Petersburg. It’s expensive, but Brooke Lee says the alternative is worse. They would love to have company benefits and are curious about a feature of the Affordable Care Act called the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP. It offers tax credits for up to half of the premium costs an employer covers.
Can Chefs Aid Obesity Fight?
Health experts say changing your eating habits is one way to avoid becoming overweight or obese. But anyone who has tried a new diet knows it can be really tough -- even when you're facing serious health consequences. So some people are trying out free cooking classes with a professional chef to help make better choices about what they eat.
Health News Florida: Impairment Triggers Wrong-Way Crashes
The stories of these crashes, and arrests of others who have been stopped by law enforcement for driving the wrong way, have people looking for an explanation. Impairment seems to be a major cause. In four of the accidents, toxicology reports show a Blood Alcohol Content level -- or BAC -- at .17 or higher. The legal limit is .08.
Virtual Kiosks Take Care Outside Clinics
Convenient medical visits are taking the next step. Clinic "kiosks" will soon be connecting Floridians and physicians via video screens and interactive tools.
Health News Florida: Seniors Tackle Diabetes Before Diagnosis
It’s graduation day at the St. Petersburg YMCA, and Ruth Neal and her classmates are taking a victory lap. The past 16 weeks, they've talked nonstop about counting fat grams, portion control and the value of being active 150 minutes a week. Today, diabetes affects a quarter of all Americans age 65 and older. And even more seniors are diagnosed with its predecessor, pre-diabetes. Like all her classmates, Neal has pre-diabetes and only signed on to the program because her doctor recommended it.
Medicare's Complexity Can Be Scary
When Medicare open enrollment for 2015 begins Oct. 15, Carol Gentry will be among those signing up. People assume the veteran journalist understands it thoroughly. But writing about Medicare is one thing; living it is another.
Health News Florida: Will Low Bidder Care for Kids?
Florida Medicaid has moved around 3 million patients into private HMOs, and most of the HMOs are using the same contractor to handle home health and medical equipment. Home-care companies worry about their own future and that of the fragile patients they care for, as Health News Florida’s Carol Gentry reports.
The Secret Prices Of Health Care: How What You Don’t Know Can Cost You
The tangle of employers, insurance companies and providers makes shopping for health care and health insurance difficult enough — but underneath that web is a layer of secrecy that prevents consumers from seeing what actually gets paid for care. And what you don’t know <em>can </em>cost you.
The Secret Price of Health Care: Transparency
The tangle of employers, insurance companies and providers makes shopping for health care and health insurance difficult enough — but underneath that web is a layer of secrecy that prevents consumers from seeing what actually gets paid for care. But not everywhere is so guarded. Reporter Todd Bookman takes us to New Hampshire, which has become a national model for health care price transparency.
Health News Florida: Roller Coasters Thrill, Drill the Body
Some visitors at Busch Gardens Tampa are testing the state's newest thrill ride. Falcon's Fury - a 30-plus-story free fall tower - is inviting a few volunteers for test rides. Mary Shedden from Health News Florida wondered what this ride and others do to our insides. She visited the park with her colleague Lottie Watts, who takes us on a ride on SheiKra.
No Documents? No Problem Here
Researchers estimate that 825,000 immigrants in Florida today live here illegally. And regardless of any government policy or ongoing political debate, they sometimes get sick. Health care charities like the Mobile Medical Services ministry Proctor oversees are among the agencies that try to help this mostly poor population. Also, federal law requires hospitals to see anyone who comes in their doors, whether they are American citizens or not.
Health News Florida: No Documents? No Problem Here
The Pew Research Center estimates that 825,000 immigrants in Florida today live here illegally. And regardless of any government policy or ongoing political debate, they sometimes get sick. Health care charities like the Mobile Medical Services ministry Sister Sara Proctor oversees are among the agencies that try to help this mostly poor population. Also, federal law requires hospitals to see anyone who comes in their doors, whether they are American citizens or not.
Gun Questions: Free Speech or Intrusion?
WUSF's Craig Kopp spoke with a Jacksonville pediatrician and a firearms expert about whether doctors should talk to patients about guns.
Health News Florida: Lawyers, Patients Fight Cost of Records
Doctors used to give patients a copy of their medical records for free. But that service is waning, as today's large group practices shed the hassle and risk by outsourcing the record-handling. They say it is costly to process record requests in compliance with patient privacy laws. In Florida, they get $1-a-page for hospital records, whether the copies are on paper or digital.
Health News Florida: How HMOs Hid Rates on State Site
How much will it cost Floridians to buy coverage next year on Healthcare.gov? Lots of people want to know, but the insurers are keeping the prices secret in an unprecedented way. Listen to a conversation between WUSF All Things Considered Host Craig Kopp and Health News Florida Editor Carol Gentry.
Health News Florida: FDA Rules Could Snuff Out Tampa as ‘Cigar City’
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants to add new regulations to additional tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, pipe tobacco and cigars. The proposed regulations are not going down well in Tampa's Ybor City, which has been rolling out cigars since 1886. In a town that was built on cigar manufacturing, J.C. Newman Cigars is the last one left in a place that once boasted 150 cigar factories. The owners worry the regulations from the FDA would close the last cigar manufacturer in the "Cigar City."
Health News Florida: Storm Prep Critical for Medically Needy
When a hurricane is approaching, everyone needs to have a plan in place. When you have medical needs, that preparation becomes even more critical. Lottie Watts with Health News Florida takes a look at how people with medical needs prepare for a hurricane.
Health News Florida: Medicaid Overhaul Message Trickles Out
It can be a pain to change health insurance policies. Imagine doing it for 3.5 million Floridians. Right now, the state's moving its medical insurance program for the poor to a new system. By August 1, nearly all Medicaid recipient plans will be run by private insurers. Health News Florida’s Mary Shedden looks at challenges caused by this rollout, which launches in the Tampa Bay area next week.
Health News Florida: Some Push Medicare Coding to the Max
A group of Florida doctors has been charging Medicare at a surprisingly high rate. That’s the finding of a new ProPublica investigation that revealed unusual billing patterns in Florida. StateImpact Florida's Sammy Mack spoke with ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein about what he found and why it matters to Florida patients.
Health News Florida - Free Dental Care Draws Crowd
Over two days at the Florida State Fairgrounds, volunteers organized by the Florida Dental Association provided more than $1 million in free services.
Health News Florida - Prostate Cancer Treatment
A Sarasota prostate cancer specialist is in trouble with state health officials for doing a procedure in Mexico that hasn't been approved in the United States. Is he a danger to patients, or just ahead of his time?
Food Deserts for the Web
Health News Florida is the only news publication dedicated to covering health issues in the nation’s fourth largest state. We hold health care policy makers, powerbrokers and practitioners accountable. And our independent reporting, online and at WUSF-FM, emphasizes how issues of cost, quality and health care access affect all Floridians. http://wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/post/can-tax-incentives-solve-fls-food-desert-problem