Health & Science

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The second confirmed U.S. case of a deadly virus that has already sickened hundreds of people in the Middle East has been found in Florida.

Earlier this month, a man who traveled from Saudi Arabia to Indiana was diagnosed with the first case of MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Now, health officials say they’ve found a second case in a man who took multiple flights from Saudi Arabia to Orlando.

R.Benk / WFSU-News

Georgia’s infant mortality rate is the seventh highest in the nation and the in the state’s southern region, health care outcomes are particularly troublesome. But, one women’s clinic in Thomasville is hoping to help change that with the help of a midwife.

With hours left to go before Florida lawmakers are set to finish this year’s legislative session, a major healthcare proposal has been derailed in the Senate.

The move highlights the gulf between the House and Senate when it comes to how to manage trauma centers, telemedicine, pharmacists and nurses, and the Senate is not impressed with a massive healthcare "train" bill sent to it by the House.

A years-long effort to revamp the rules for nursing home lawsuits is now before the Governor to sign, veto or let become law without his signature.  The proposal marks a compromise among varying groups that don’t normally agree on litigation issues.

Didier Lahousse / flickr/creative commons

The Florida House is cobbling together several different health-related bills in the hope the combined proposal will sway the Senate to vote for them. But the new, combined proposal still doesn’t sway some in the originating chamber.

Intel Free Press

Florida lawmakers have been weighing how to regulate telemedicine—generating debate between doctors’ groups and other healthcare providers. The House has been moving its telehealth proposal along, but the Senate version of the bill had its first hearing Tuesday.

The glitches plaguing on the last day of open enrollment haven't stopped people from at least starting the process before the clock strikes midnight.

At the Florida Association of Community Health Centers’ office Monday, Diane Smerling and her certified application counselor Ben Browning, are fighting with

A fight over pharmacy staffing levels may be cooling down under a proposed compromise in the Florida Senate. But whether the deal sticks is another issue entirely.

Florida Senate

Every time Terry Russell sees a headline about abuse or neglect in a Florida assisted living facility, he cringes:

“I know I put forth the effort to take care of my residents as well as I can and try to make their lives as productive as they can be," Russell says, "So when I see articles about other facilities or folks having problems, it tarnishes the reputation of all of us.” 

Quietly and without much fanfare, Florida’s health insurance marketplace made its debut earlier this week, but it should not to be confused with the federal health insurance exchanges and Obamacare.

“We’re not in competition with the federal exchange. We’re not offering subsidies—those can only come from the federal exchange," says Florida Health Choices Director Rose Naff, who  is quick to point out the differences between the program she’s running—and that of the federal government.

LHatter / WFSU News

Jacksonville Doctor Phil Perry is the Chief Medical Officer for Saint Vincent Medical Center, and he’s been using telemedicine at the network’s new Clay County hospital. He says the intensive care staff’s ability to have experts on call at the push of a button has saved lives:

“We have seen one saved life in the care of a sepsis patient. Overall 7 patients’ lives have been saved by the performance of our telehealth facility," Perry told a House health committee.

KFF.ORG / Kaiser Family Foundation

Florida has stood on the sidelines for more than a year as other states have taken the federal government up on its offer to provide more funding if more people are added to Medicaid rolls. Last year, the House and Senate flirted with the idea but failed to reach an agreement. But the conversation continued even after lawmakers went home.

A years-long effort to revamp the rules for nursing home lawsuits could get a green light this year. Organizations that have historically opposed nursing home tort reform are signaling they won’t oppose the proposals and supporters say they’re confident this is the year for change.

Florida Senate

South Florida's Assisted Living Facilities were the subject of a series of 2011 Miami Herald reports alleging lax oversight and abuse of residents in several South Florida facilities. Now, years later, Florida lawmakers are inching closer on bills cracking down on the industry.

The nation’s health care delivery system is undergoing major changes, and the lines between what different healthcare providers do is beginning to blur. That’s the backdrop for fights between doctors, nurses and pharmacists, and those fights have become an annual occurrence at Florida’s Capitol, as each group tries to increase or maintain its scope-of-practice.

To put it plainly, these are turf battles. At the center is this debate: access, versus quality. 

Florida’s powerful physician lobby group is coming out against a proposal that would allow nurses to take on additional roles and duties. The proposal would let nurses write more prescriptions—something the doctors say nurses aren’t trained enough to do.

LHatter / WFSU News

Florida lawmakers are grappling with the issue of telemedicine.

Telemedicine allows doctors to digitally connect to their patients—usually through video conferencing. Florida is looking to Georgia as a guide in how to craft its telemedicine policy. Paula Guy heads The Georgia Telemedicine network, TeleHealth. She says physicians must support telemedicine for it to work, and the best way to ensure that is by paying them:

LHatter / WFSU News

A group of navigators  held an enrollment fair at Tallahassee Community College Monday—the perfect place to pick up the one group that’s least likely to purchase health insurance.

Now that thousands of Floridians have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act—they’re awaiting their insurance cards. But one of the largest insurers in the state, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, has been slow in making those deliveries.

Florida Blue officials say they’ve added more staff to work on applications and extended service hours in their retail location and call centers to help customers with their insurance questions.

Florida Senate

Top Republicans in the Florida Legislature have shown little interest in expanding Medicaid in the state. Despite that, Democrats say they’ll keep pushing for the expansion. Now a Senate Republican has re-filed a failed 2013 proposal to expand the program to more low-income Floridians.

AJ Cann via Flickr

When Floridians of a certain age go for a health checkup, one lawmaker wants their doctors to be required to offer a hepatitis C test.  But House Speaker Will Weatherford is encouraging the bill sponsor to remove the mandate because insurance companies wouldn’t like it, she says.

Rep. Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville) says Centers for Disease Control statistics about hepatitis C and baby boomers are compelling.

“Baby boomers are five times more likely to have hepatitis C," she says.

R.Benk / WFSU-News

The federal Health Resources and Services Administration says at least 55 million people around the country live in areas that lack an adequate supply of primary care doctors. Now, some Florida lawmakers are looking to remedy that by expanding what Nurse Practitioners are allowed to do.

Kaiser Family Foundation /

Tampa Bay resident Victoria Stout is 57. She’s self-employed, healthy, works odd jobs, and is uninsured. She’s been without health insurance most of her adult life. She’s healthy, and takes measures to ensure she stays that way. And while she doesn’t have health insurance, she does get healthcare: paying for it out-of-pocket.

Beta-testing Google Glass

Dec 19, 2013

A Tallahassee marketer is among those chosen to beta-test Google’s “in-your-face” web device.

Capital Health Plan

There’s more than one insurance company in North Florida, but you wouldn’t know it just by looking at the federal government’s health insurance exchange website.

Many Floridians are now finally able to log on to after weeks of delays due to problems with the site. They’re finding that in North Florida there are nearly 30 plans available, however, “they’re all, unfortunately, all versions of Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and that’s fairly alarming that there is no competition," says Donna Gillette.