Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Health

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor preaches benefits of new health care law

The debut of the online health insurance marketplace means consumers can consider competing policies at lower prices. But not everyone has a computer or the means to sift through all the options.

That's where community health centers come in: guiding folks to the right plan, said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.

Castor visited the Johnnie Ruth Clarke Health Center in St. Petersburg last week to talk about how the Affordable Care Act is helping Floridians and to promote the online marketplace.

She said among Affordable Care Act benefits is the requirement that co-pays and premiums go to health care services. Then, people get rebate checks.

In the Tampa Bay area, the act has generated $47 million in rebates for almost 1 million individuals, she said.

"When you receive that rebate check later this summer, you can thank Obamacare," she said.

The challenge is addressing the 20 to 25 percent of Floridians who don't have access to affordable health insurance, Castor said.

Community health centers play a huge role in reaching out, she said.

Cheryl Robinson, who oversees the Johnnie Ruth Clarke Health Center, said the center has a team of people trained to go out into the community to inform people about finding the right plan on the marketplace.

Joseph Santini, business development director of Community Health Centers of Pinellas, said the grant money Castor has secured will allow the center to hire five to seven new employees. Along with retrained staff members, those employees will reach out to the 42 percent of their clientele that is uninsured.

"Let's face it. This is going to be labor intensive," Castor said. "That's why the grant money came to Community Health Centers of Pinellas, to hire those folks who will be on the ground."

Because of the state Legislature's rejection of expanded Medicaid, 1 million Floridians are left in a gap: unable to qualify for Medicaid, yet too poor to qualify for federal subsidies to help purchase insurance coverage on the online market exchange.

"When they fall in the gap, and there certainly is still a small gap, that's where we come in with our sliding fee schedule and we work with the individuals where they are financially to ensure that they have access to primary care," Santini said.

Castor called the rejection of expanded care a shortsighted decision for which all Floridians will pay.

"The speaker of the House, and the people that support it, in essence said, 'If you are a hardworking person but you make less than $20,000 a year, we're going to bar you from the doctor's office. Go to the emergency room,'" Castor said. "Hopefully, they will change their minds."

Claire McNeill can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Tampa General Hospital resumes normal surgery schedule after issue with instruments

Tampa General Hospital resumes normal surgery schedule after issue with instruments

After rescheduling some surgeries last week due to an issue with surgical instruments, Tampa General Hospital has returned to a normal schedule.Hospital staff discovered a slight discoloration on the cleaned and sterilized surgical tools last week du...
Published: 11/12/18
Some red states just voted to expand Medicaid. Could Florida be next?

Some red states just voted to expand Medicaid. Could Florida be next?

Medicaid — which has been a political football between Washington and state capitols during the past decade — scored big in Tuesday’s election.Following the vote, nearly 500,000 uninsured adults in five states are poised to gain Medicaid coverage und...
Published: 11/09/18
Why are we suddenly hearing about hepatitis A outbreaks? Experts blame the opioid crisis.

Why are we suddenly hearing about hepatitis A outbreaks? Experts blame the opioid crisis.

In just the last two weeks, one restaurant in Tampa Bay has shut down and another closed temporarily after outbreaks of hepatitis A. Health officials in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties say reports of the virus are way up, and they worry that more ...
Published: 11/08/18
Updated: 11/09/18
Issue with surgical instruments prompts Tampa General Hospital to cancel procedures

Issue with surgical instruments prompts Tampa General Hospital to cancel procedures

Tampa General Hospital is rescheduling a number of elective surgeries this week over an issue that caused some discoloration in surgical instruments. The problem surfaced during routine quality checks of surgical instruments performed prior to surger...
Published: 11/07/18
Updated: 11/08/18
Florida surgeon removes healthy kidney he thought was tumor

Florida surgeon removes healthy kidney he thought was tumor

The Palm Beach Post reported last week that Maureen Pacheco has sued Ramon Vazquez and two other surgeons for malpractice.
Published: 11/07/18
Hamburger Mary’s in Ybor City to close in wake of worker testing positive for hepatitis A

Hamburger Mary’s in Ybor City to close in wake of worker testing positive for hepatitis A

TAMPA — After nine years in Ybor City, Hamburger Mary’s Bar and Grill is closing, owner Kurt King said Tuesday evening.King and co-owner Brian DeChane had announced on Facebook that Tuesday would be the last night the Ybor City restaurant would be op...
Published: 11/06/18
Updated: 11/07/18
Toasted Monkey employee on St. Pete Beach tests positive for hepatitis A

Toasted Monkey employee on St. Pete Beach tests positive for hepatitis A

A food service worker at the Toasted Monkey Beach Bar on St. Pete Beach tested positive for hepatitis A, Pinellas County health officials announced Monday, marking the second such incident in the last two weeks in Tampa Bay.The two cases, along with ...
Published: 11/05/18
F.D.A. approves powerful new opioid despite warnings of likely abuse

F.D.A. approves powerful new opioid despite warnings of likely abuse

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration approved a new form of an extremely potent opioid to manage acute pain in adults, weeks after the chairman of the advisory committee that reviewed it asked the agency to reject it on grounds that it would...
Published: 11/05/18
He fought for transgender rights in Colombia. Now he worries as a U.S. citizen

He fought for transgender rights in Colombia. Now he worries as a U.S. citizen

For 19-year-old Manuel Jose Plazas Martinez, the process of changing his official records went beyond the usual hurdles that can keep a transgender person from moving ahead in life.A native of Colombia, he sued his former government over his birth ce...
Published: 11/05/18
In days of data galore, patients have trouble getting own medical records

In days of data galore, patients have trouble getting own medical records

Medical records can be hard for patients to get, even in this digital information age. But they shouldn’t be: Federal law guarantees that people have a right to see and obtain a copy of their medical records.New evidence of barriers to exercising thi...
Published: 11/02/18