TAMPA — The federal judge in the fraud trial of four former WellCare executives gave jurors an unusual set of instructions on Thursday afternoon:
Have a nice 10-day break.
Jurors, who have been deliberating for six days, have yet to reach verdicts in the complicated, nearly three-month-long criminal trial against the four men. Some jurors had already made vacation plans for Memorial Day week, so U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. allowed them to take off Friday and all of next week....
TAMPA — The fate of four former WellCare executives accused of defrauding the state Medicaid program of nearly $30 million now rests in the hands of a federal jury.
After a nearly 2 1/2-month trial, attorneys on Tuesday finished their closing statements in the high-profile criminal case against former chief executive officer Todd S. Farha; former chief financial officer Paul L. Behrens; former vice president William Kale; and former vice president Peter E. Clay....
ST. PETERSBURG — With only days left until the end of the legislative session, All Children's Hospital last month faced losing up to $18 million in Medicaid payments.
It was time to hit the panic button.
Hospital officials rallied community leaders with emails. The lobbying team hit up Tampa Bay legislators. A worried mom sent a state senator photographs of her daughter, a spinal surgery patient at All Children's....
ST. PETERSBURG — A local compounding pharmacy has agreed to recall all its sterile drugs after a recent inspection uncovered potential safety problems, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.
Federal health inspectors discovered "exposed rust" and "numerous splattered brownish stains" on equipment used to prepare injectable drugs and eye medications at the Compounding Shop, raising the possibility that the medications could be contaminated....
TAMPA — A federal jury has awarded more than $20 million in damages to eight former employees of a Largo travel company where male managers were accused of groping and sexually harassing female workers.
The total payout will be less because of a federal cap on damages.
Seven of the former employees are women who were victims of the harassment. One is a man who was fired after reporting the harassment, said St. Petersburg lawyer Patrice Pucci, who represented three of the plaintiffs....
TAMPA — Dr. Chad Farmer sees patients with very serious, even terminal conditions, such as cancer, emphysema and heart disease. Many ask this question when he walks through the door:
You're not from hospice, are you?
They ask because they aren't ready for hospice. They may equate it with death. They may not want to stop medical treatments meant to cure or prolong life, even if their suffering is intense....
ST. PETERSBURG — All Children's Hospital cares for a lot of children who are very sick and who rely on Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor. Those facts have helped make it a beloved institution. But now they're also helping to make it a potential target for a major cut in state funding.
All Children's Hospital would be the second biggest loser under a Florida Senate plan to change how hospitals are reimbursed for Medicaid care, according to a new analysis by the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida. Only Miami's Jackson Memorial stands to lose more than All Children's $18 million cut. Tampa General would lose $6.6 million, counting another trim created by a plan to reallocate a separate pot of federal money (See related information, 7B)....
TAMPA — His little girl was asleep Monday afternoon, and someone asked Jerry Nugent what he would tell her when she woke up.
Nugent paused, and as he started talking, his voice broke.
"I just want to hear her say she loves me and hug her," he said. "You know, that's it. … She's my angel, you know. The tragedy of it, I've got to work through, but when she opens her eyes and she sees me and she smiles and says she loves me and when we hold each other, a lot of pain that's in me right now is going to leave."...
ST. PETERSBURG — Cory Rider was pulling a paddleboard off a high shelf when something else came down instead: a heavy piece of electronic equipment that struck his collarbone before falling to the floor.
His neck and shoulder swelled and hurt, but Rider, 31, tried to wait out the pain. He has neither health insurance nor extra money for imaging to assess the damage.
"I had no idea how much these things cost," said Rider, who owns a paddleboard business called NinjaFit....
Ireland Nugent lost her lower legs to lawn mower blades on Wednesday, and few things make the accident more heartbreaking than the fact that she's only 2½ years old.
But it's also her age that could hasten and improve her recovery.
"She's so young," said Bryan Sinnott, a prosthetist at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa. "She's going to improve quite quickly as opposed to an older person who's used to walking with their regular gait. It's harder for an adult to adapt than a child."...
TAMPA — Ovarian cancer has long been called the "silent killer," its symptoms going unnoticed until the disease is so advanced it is all but untreatable.
But what if doctors could predict which women are at highest risk for the cancer — and why?
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have helped identify four DNA hotspots associated with higher risk of developing the fifth-deadliest cancer among women. Two large studies compared the genetic material of more than 18,000 women who had ovarian cancer with that of 26,000 healthy women....
When it comes to opening up Medicaid to cover more uninsured Floridians, business groups have put forth either lukewarm endorsements or red-hot opposition.
What few are publicly raising, though, is this point: Expanding Medicaid could save some businesses a considerable amount of money.
The federal health reform law requires businesses that employ more than 50 people to provide them access to affordable health insurance, or pay a penalty. But for employees whose wages are low enough to qualify for expanded Medicaid, bosses are off the hook....
Nearly 1.7 million Floridians could qualify for federal subsidies to buy private health insurance on the online marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, according to a study released Tuesday by a national consumer group. More than a quarter-million Tampa Bay area residents could qualify.
While most of the debate on the federal law has focused on Medicaid expansion for the poorest adults, the new report from Families USA emphasizes the law's impact on working people with more moderate incomes....
When they voted to kill the Medicaid expansion this month, Republican lawmakers knocked the government-run insurance program as flawed, costly and out of control.
But that very program is about to become big business for insurance companies competing to serve low-income Floridians.
Even without expanding Medicaid, 3 million residents still remain on the rolls. About half of them get their benefits through privately run managed care. Starting next year, nearly everyone will have to use HMOs and other forms of managed care, thanks to federal approval of a Republican plan in the works for years. ...
TAMPA — A lawyer for a former WellCare executive on trial for Medicaid fraud took aim Tuesday at one of the prosecution's star witnesses, portraying him as someone who speculated about details he did not understand.
Former WellCare financial analyst Greg West pleaded guilty in the case in 2007, promising to cooperate with federal prosecutors in exchange for a lighter punishment. Prosecutors later charged five former executives at WellCare, the Tampa-based health insurance company that provides managed-care plans for Medicaid patients....