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Jodie Tillman, Times Staff Writer

Jodie Tillman

Jodie Tillman covers the health and medicine beat. She started at the Times in May 2006.

Phone: (813) 226-3374

Email: jtillman@tampabay.com

Twitter: @JTillmanTimes

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  1. Two children, one from Pasco County, die from flu-related complications, state says

    Health

    The Florida Department of Health announced Monday the deaths of two children, one in Pasco County and one in Orange County, from flu-related complications.

    Health officials refused to provide the ages and hometowns of the children.

    The Pasco child had an underlying health condition, said Deanna Krautner, a spokeswoman for the Pasco County Health Department. Linda Cobbe, a spokeswoman for the Pasco school district, said the child attended a district school but would not say which one. She said counselors were on hand last week for the student's classmates....

  2. Study shows Obamacare plans, and subsidies, rising in Tampa Bay area

    Health

    The prices of standard health plans on the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace are increasing next year by double-digit percentages in the Tampa Bay region.

    But 90 percent of Floridians who bought insurance on the exchanges received tax subsidies, and those could also go up enough to help soften the blow, according to a new analysis.

    There's a catch: You don't immediately get the recalculated subsidy unless you go back to the enrollment site, Healthcare.gov....

  3. At USF visit, Obama official talks up health care law

    Health

    TAMPA — The Obama administration official overseeing the health insurance marketplaces said Monday that she's pleased with how the federal website is working so far and confident more than 9 million Americans will sign up for coverage by February.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell appeared at the University of South Florida's Tampa campus just two days after healthcare.gov opened for its second year of business. She said more than 100,000 consumers submitted applications through healthcare.gov on Saturday, though she declined to say how many of them had actually enrolled in a plan. About 7 million enrolled in marketplace plans for 2014....

    Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, left, spoke Monday at the University of South Florida in Tampa. At rear is U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.
  4. Tampa Bay experts discuss Ebola preparedness

    Health

    TAMPA — Back in July, Dr. Douglas Holt got an invitation to help teach a one-day course on the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Holt, the director of the Hillsborough County Health Department, agreed but wondered: Who's interested in Ebola?

    Before long, he got an answer.

    An infected Liberian man arrived in Dallas and two nurses who treated him were infected with the disease. A New York doctor who treated Ebola patients in West Africa tested positive for the disease upon his return home. A Maine nurse who had also volunteered in Africa but did not contract the disease fought a high-profile battle against attempts to quarantine her....

  5. Obamacare open enrollment: Compare to save money, hassles (w/video)

    Health

    Bonnie James likes her health insurance plan, but she isn't going to keep it.

    Her Florida Blue policy, purchased in the first year of the Affordable Care Act marketplace, comes with low out-of-pocket costs and a wide provider network. It was perfect this year since she has had to deal with a serious illness. The tradeoff: paying about $360 a month in premiums, even with a sizable subsidy....

    Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said the ACA is achieving its goals.
  6. Medical program helps homeless recover after release from hospital

    Health

    LARGO — Roy Lee McDaniel ended up in the hospital earlier this year after doctors discovered a tumor on his spine. After surgery and therapy, he was ready to go home.

    But McDaniel, 46, lost his construction job and apartment when he fell ill. With nowhere to recover, he faced a far greater risk that he'd quickly be back in the hospital.

    But McDaniel got lucky: He was accepted into a small medical respite program at Pinellas Hope, the "tent city" and transitional housing campus run by Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg....

    Roy Lee McDaniel recovered in one of Pinellas Hope’s casitas after surgery to remove a tumor on his spine.
  7. Cigna agrees to lower drug costs for Florida HIV patients in Obamacare plans

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — One of the four Florida insurers accused of overcharging HIV and AIDS patients for their medications has agreed to take steps to reduce those costs, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation announced Friday.

    Cigna is the first of the four insurers to agree to change how it handles HIV medications. The insurer admitted to no wrong-doing in an agreement with state regulators but said it was making the changes partly to avoid litigation....

  8. Report: Many Florida children still have no health insurance

    Health

    A new report shows Florida had the highest percentage of uninsured children in the Southeast last year, and one reason is that so many of their parents don't have coverage, advocates say.

    In Florida, 11.1 percent of children were uninsured in 2013, according to the report from Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families. That's about 445,000 children.

    Florida fared fifth worst in the nation, behind Nevada, Texas, Arizona and Alaska....

  9. WellCare faces whistle-blower case over denying payment for hospital stays

    Business

    TAMPA — Six former administrators for WellCare Health Plans say they were fired in late 2012 for resisting corporate pressure to deny paying for legitimate hospital stays, according to a recently unsealed federal lawsuit.

    The civil lawsuit was filed in May 2013 but was unsealed last week after the federal government declined to join the case. That means the fired administrators are on their own, should the case proceed....

  10. Florida Cabinet: Bondi, Putnam, Atwater all coast to re-election

    Elections

    TAMPA — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi won re-election Tuesday with a commanding victory over Democrat George Sheldon and Libertarian candidate Bill Wohlsifer.

    Florida's two other Republican Cabinet members, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, won their races by double digits.

    Although an attorney general hasn't lost re-election in 50 years, Bondi was in the most competitive race of the three, especially after enduring a spate of negative publicity in the past week about how she manages the office....

    Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi won reelection Tuesday with a commanding lead over Democratic George Sheldon and Libertarian candidate Bill Wohlsifer. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  11. Laser Spine Institute sued over spinal fusion surgery

    Civil

    TAMPA — For people with back pain, Laser Spine Institute makes a tantalizing offer: high-tech surgeries that relieve suffering and let patients walk out the door in hours.

    But a recent lawsuit alleges an Ohio man couldn't even stand after his surgery at the Tampa center last year. He had to be taken to a hospital after a seven-hour spinal procedure left him with a permanent neurological injury, the documents say....

  12. African journalists' visit to St. Petersburg canceled due to Ebola fears

    Health

    ST. PETERSBURG — The University of South Florida St. Petersburg has canceled the upcoming visit of 14 journalists from African countries, citing Ebola-related fears from faculty, students and staff.

    The journalists, part of the U.S. Department of State Edward R. Murrow program, were scheduled to arrive in St. Petersburg on Oct. 31 for a five-day visit. Two of those journalists are from the Ebola-affected nations of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Salem Solomon, a Tampa-based journalist, wrote in an op-ed appearing in the Tampa Bay Times criticizing the university's decision....

  13. Ebola response highlights government cuts to public health

    Health

    The Ebola threat is calling attention to a problem years in the making: cuts to the programs and staff intended to prepare for just such a public health emergency.

    Gov. Rick Scott, who has demanded federal aid to prepare for Ebola, announced Monday that the Florida National Guard is establishing two "rapid response teams" to help hospitals. But he has also overseen major cuts in the state's own Department of Health. The department had 15,170 staff positions this year — a 13 percent drop from 2010, according to legislative documents....

  14. Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik will donate land for downtown USF medical school

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik wants the University of South Florida to build a new medical school on his downtown property so badly that he's willing to give the school an acre of his land to seal the deal.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning owner made the offer this week to USF president Judy Genshaft and Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, according to a university spokesman....

    Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has amassed a significant chunk of southern downtown around the team’s home at the Amalie Arena: the Channelside Bay Plaza outdoor mall, the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina and 24 empty acres around the arena. He is set to unveil plans to transform the area into a walkable entertainment district and he also wants to attract major employers in high-end industries to his redevelopment project, including, perhaps, the University of South Florida’s new medical school.
  15. Nurses say Florida hospitals not prepared for Ebola; Scott calls for more training

    Health

    TAMPA — Working in a hospital unit that handles the sickest patients, Kim Scott knows she's the type of nurse who could treat an Ebola case. But the 26-year veteran she said she doesn't feel ready for it — especially after news that a second Texas hospital worker had contracted the virus from a patient who has since died.

    "It is a scary time to be a worker in the health care field," said Scott, who would not specify at which of the two Brooksville hospitals she works. "And it's a scary time for the public."...

    Nurses and members of the National Nurses Organizing Committee perform a “die in” Wednesday in Ybor City to protest what they call a lack of preparation of medical personnel to deal with Ebola outbreaks.