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. Florida Medical Association members vote to support Medicaid expansion

    State Roundup

    For the first time, members of the Florida Medical Association have approved a resolution endorsing Medicaid expansion, a politically contentious issue that the group's leaders have generally avoided in the past two legislative sessions.

    But the FMA's full-throated support for expansion comes with a caveat: Medicaid reimbursement rates must be increased to attract more doctors to the program....

  2. Floridians to get $42 million in health insurance refunds

    Health

    More than 981,000 Floridians will get an average refund of $65 from their health insurers this summer because of the Affordable Care Act, federal officials announced today.

    The law's so-called "80/20" rule, also called the medical loss ratio, requires insurers in the individual and small group markets to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on patient care and such activities as hospital discharge planning and nursing hotlines. Insurers in the large group markets, generally defined as those with more than 100 workers, must spend more on such services, 85 percent....

  3. With billions for Floridians at stake, courts issue dueling rulings on health care law

    Health

    About 931,000 Floridians could lose $4.8 billion in subsidies to buy health insurance if a federal appeals court decision Tuesday striking down a major part of President Barack Obama's signature health care law is upheld.

    The ruling in Halbig vs. Burwell by the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit could mean premium increases for millions of Americans who rely on federally run insurance exchanges because their states would not create their own....

  4. She has insurance under Affordable Care Act, but can't find a doctor

    Health

    ST. PETERSBURG — Charlene Lake thought she got a decent deal through the Affordable Care Act marketplace: a Humana HMO that included a family doctor a few miles from her home.

    Five months later, Lake wonders if she can even use the insurance she bought.

    Her plan's dominant health care provider, JSA Medical Group, recently announced that it would take no new patients covered by Humana's exchange HMOs at least until fall. That leaves Lake no choice but to use the community health centers left in her plan's network, rather than the traditional physician's practice on which she planned....

    Charlene Lake has a Humana HMO, but no doctors are available on her plan until at least fall.
  5. Chikungunya virus spreads locally in Florida for first time

    Health

    The first cases of locally acquired chikungunya fever in the United States were reported Thursday in Florida: one in Miami-Dade County and the other in Palm Beach County, the Florida Department of Health announced.

    Chikungunya is a disease spread by bites from infected mosquitoes. If a person is infected and bitten by a mosquito, that mosquito could later spread the infection by biting another person. Chikungunya is not contagious from person to person, is typically not life-threatening and will likely resolve on its own, state officials said....

  6. U.S. News again names Tampa General Hospital best local hospital, No. 2 in state

    Health

    TAMPA — Tampa General Hospital has been ranked as the No. 2 hospital in Florida by U.S. News & World Report for the second year in a row.

    TGH, ranked as the No. 1 hospital in the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area by the magazine, was also listed as one of the top 50 hospitals nationally in four specialities: cardiology and heart surgery; nephrology; orthopedics; and urology....

  7. NPR host Diane Rehm's disclosure about her husband's death puts light on end-of-life choice

    Health

    During a radio talk show this week about right-to-die laws, host Diane Rehm made a very personal disclosure: Suffering terribly from Parkinson's disease, her husband John stopped eating and drinking to hasten his death.

    It was his only remaining choice, she said, after his doctor told him he could not legally or ethically help him end his life.

    "John took the extraordinarily courageous route of saying, 'I will no longer drink, I will no longer eat,' " Rehm told listeners of her nationally syndicated public radio program....

    Diane Rehm and her husband John had been married 54 years.
  8. Most Florida health insurers conceal 2015 premium prices

    Health

    Consumer advocates are pushing for the release of rate filings by the state's health insurers, saying Floridians shouldn't be kept in the dark on premium prices for next year.

    All but two of the dozen health insurers that want to sell plans through the Affordable Care Act marketplace failed to indicate on forms posted on a state website whether they're seeking an increase or decrease in their monthly premium prices....

  9. Dermatologists and skin cancer groups urge FDA to act on new sunscreen ingredients

    Health

    Few items that beachgoers use this Fourth of July weekend are as distinctly American as their bottles, tubes and cans of sunscreen. But that shouldn't be a point of pride, according to a coalition of dermatologists, cancer research groups and sunscreen makers.

    Sunscreens sold in the United States are missing some of the latest and most effective ingredients for blocking the type of ultraviolet rays associated with premature aging and serious skin cancer, says the Public Access to Sunscreens Coalition, called PASS for short....

    Ashley Rossi applies sunscreen last year at lifeguard tower No. 3 on Clearwater Beach. Doctors say U.S. sunscreens have limited ingredients that filter deeper-penetrating UVA rays.
  10. Insurers file to sell 2015 marketplace health plans in Florida, rates still not known

    Health

    Floridians who buy their health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace will have new companies to choose from next year, but how much they'll pay is still unclear.

    About a dozen health insurers filed documents by Friday's federal deadline indicating they intend to sell marketplace plans in Florida next year. The list includes returning big players like Florida Blue, Aetna, Cigna and Humana, as well as United Healthcare, which did not participate in the marketplace this year. Each insurer can sell multiple types of plans, and rates can vary across the state....

  11. USF, All Children's announce land gift to benefit medical residency programs

    Health

    ST. PETERSBURG — A joint research and education facility is planned on 1.4 acres the University of South Florida gave to All Children's Hospital this week, a deal said to show the two institutions' committed relationship three years after the pediatric center joined Johns Hopkins Medicine.

    The property is currently a parking lot next to USF's research building known for James Rosenquist's giant Band-Aid sculpture on the outside. The land will be used for a "research, education and training facility to support innovations in pediatric care and expand the future collaborative efforts of the two organizations,'' USF and All Children's said in a joint statement on Wednesday....

    The University of South Florida has transferred 1.4 acres to All Children’s Hospital that will be used for a joint research and education facility.
  12. Spinal fusion costs spur insurance changes, but can Medicare follow?

    Health

    Over the past two decades, the search for relief from back pain led skyrocketing numbers of Americans to a costly procedure that bonds vertebrae together. But as evidence mounted that spinal fusion surgery was used too often for the wrong people, insurer Cigna decided in 2011 to see how its own members had fared.

    The news was startling: 87 percent of customers who had spinal fusion to treat pain due to wear and tear on spinal discs were still in so much pain two years later that they needed more therapies or drugs. Nearly 15 percent had more surgery. Total cost of the post-surgery claims: $11 million. That's on top of the initial fusion surgeries, which can carry price tags of $100,000 each, though insurers don't pay that much....

    Janet Day, 69, front, works out with dumbbells during a weight and cardio class at Family Fitness Centers in Hudson.
  13. Florida ranks low in study of long-term care services for elderly and disabled

    Health

    Florida may enjoy a reputation as a haven for the elderly, but the Sunshine State ranks as one of nation's worst in helping keep seniors living independently and out of nursing homes, according to a national study released today.

    The new scorecard on long-term services for seniors and the physically disabled puts Florida at No. 43 overall on five measurements, including nursing home affordability, quality of care and support for family caregivers, according to the study from AARP, the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation. ...

    Betty Patruno, 71, helps husband Sam Patruno, 74, as he gets a drink in the kitchen of their home in Dunedin on Wednesday. Though she needed the income, Betty retired from her bank teller job in April to take care of Sam, who has dementia.
  14. New USF medical school dean wants to cut costs to students

    Health

    TAMPA — The scandal over patient care at the nation's veterans hospitals has pushed to the forefront a long-simmering issue: The critical shortage of primary care doctors.

    One of the big reasons for that problem? Medical students, carrying an average education debt of $170,000, are more likely to pursue higher-paying specialities than primary care.

    "The single biggest deterrent for students going into primary care is their level of debt,'' said Dr. Charles Lockwood, the new dean of University of South Florida's Morsani College of Medicine. "It's something I take personally.''...

    Dr. Charles Lockwood, the new USF Medical School Dean, photographed in The Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown Tampa on Thursday, June 12, 2014. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  15. Physicians United Medicare HMO folding due to shaky finances

    Business

    A Medicare Advantage plan that abruptly dumped a popular Tampa Bay area medical practice and sent consumers scrambling for new doctors recently is shutting down entirely at the end of the month after a judge determined that it is insolvent.

    Physicians United Plan will be liquidated on July 1 under the order signed by a Leon County judge earlier this week. The Orlando-based plan — which has about 39,000 members statewide, including 1,200 in the Tampa Bay area — was running a $13 million deficit, according to court records....