Health News Florida

Health Care Reporter

Aug 7, 2019

Deadline to apply: Aug. 29, 2019

Station: WLRN Public Media

Company: South Florida Public Media

FLSA Status: Full-time, Exempt

Reports to: News Director

Schedule: 9 a.m. -6 p.m. Monday-Friday, or as required

Location: South Florida

To apply: ​

Seth Pincus, Elizabeth Fischer, and Austin Athman / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

South Florida researchers believe they're one step closer to developing a more effective vaccine against HIV, after overcoming a virus that infects monkeys.

Nicknamed the "Death Star," SIVmac239 is a particularly resilient immunodeficiency virus that features the same obstacles that have vexed HIV vaccine researchers over the years: the outer layers around the viruses mutate quickly. It's like the immune system is trying to track a shapeshifter—a defense against the viruses works, and then it doesn't.

Everydayplus / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The state of Florida recently passed a bill that gives most victims of crimes three years to get help paying for recovery and support services—like mental health care to identify and treat trauma related to the crime.

Sammy Mack / WLRN News

Florida counties can now authorize needle exchanges, after a bill aimed at reducing HIV and hepatitis C was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis.

Florida Gets New Health Care Laws, Bringing Some Big Changes

Jun 26, 2019
nenetus / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed 15 bills, including health-care priorities of House Speaker Jose Oliva, a plan to kick-start a hemp industry in Florida and an effort to prevent college hazing deaths.

The health-care bills included a measure (HB 21) that will eliminate the long-controversial “certificate of need” regulatory process for new hospitals and certain hospital services. Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, championed the bill, arguing that it will lead to a more free-market approach to health care.

Katie Lepri / WLRN

We'd like to take a second to talk to you about poop.

Yeah, that's right.

Poop.

USDA.gov

The Florida Department of Health says a food service worker at Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens tested positive for hepatitis A. Customers who ate or drank there may have been exposed to the virus between May 1 and May 12.

DOH is encouraging diners who were at the restaurant between May 9 and May 12 to talk to a doctor and get a hepatitis A vaccine--it can be effective up to two weeks after exposure.

More from the DOH press release:

Needle Exchanges Find New Champions Among Republicans

May 9, 2019
Sammy Mack / WLRN News

Once repellent to conservative politicians, needle exchanges are now being endorsed and legalized in Republican-controlled states.

At least four legislatures have considered bills to allow hypodermic needle exchanges, and two states, Georgia and Idaho, made them legal this year. In each of these states, the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans and the governor is a Republican.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

The state legislative session is over and the fate of a bill that would allow the expansion of needle exchanges throughout Florida is now up to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Infectious Disease Elimination Programs bill creates a legal mechanism for counties to authorize programs that swap clean syringes for dirty ones. Needle exchanges have been shown to reduce the spread of blood borne infections—like HIV and hepatitis C—among injection drug users.

The bill passed 111-3 in the Florida House and unanimously in the Florida Senate.

Hansel Tookes

The Florida Legislature has approved a bill that will allow the expansion of needle exchanges throughout Florida.

The Infectious Disease Elimination Programs bill—which passed a house vote on Wednesday and has already passed in the Florida Senate—creates a legal mechanism for counties to authorize programs that swap clean syringes for dirty ones. Needle exchanges have been shown to reduce the spread of blood borne infections—like HIV and hepatitis C—among intravenous drug users.

Courtesy Pedro Neves Marques and Galleria Umberto di Marino / PAMM

In a dark gallery at the Perez Art Museum Miami, two screens on opposite sides of the room play a pair of films on an alternating loop—one follows scientists working in a lab to create genetically modified mosquitoes, the other is a portrait of a polyamorous relationship that unfolds under the canopy of a Brazilian jungle.

Major Florida Medicaid Providers to Merge

Mar 28, 2019
Sira Anamwong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

News Service of Florida

Centene Corp. will acquire the Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans, Inc. in a $17.3 billion deal that will combine two of the biggest players in Florida’s Medicaid managed-care system, the companies announced Wednesday.

Centene does business in Florida as Sunshine Health, while WellCare’s Florida Medicaid business is Staywell Health Plan. The companies provide coverage in similar markets in the state. The deal, in part, would give Centene access to WellCare’s business in parts of the country such as Hawaii, Kentucky and New Jersey.

Supfroyd / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Florida Legislature increased Medicaid nursing home rates in the state budget by $138 million last year. But the one-time boost is slated to expire on June 30, and unless lawmakers agree to maintain the funding, Florida nursing homes will lose an average $300,000 per year.

In an effort to prevent the funding loss from occurring, AARP Florida is teaming up with the state’s two nursing home associations to lobby the Legislature to make the money recurring. The trio is branding itself the “Coalition for Silver Solutions.”

tawatchai / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mental health providers in South Florida are stressing the need for more trauma awareness and suicide prevention resources following the apparent suicide deaths of two young survivors of last year's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

There's a proposal in Tallahassee right now that could make it easier for injection drug users to trade dirty needles for fresh ones -- preventing the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.

A trial project in Miami Dade County is the only legal needle exchange in Florida. The bill would let the other counties to create something similar.

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