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Kathleen McGrory, Times Staff Writer

Kathleen McGrory

Kathleen McGrory is a health and medicine reporter at the Tampa Bay Times. Before joining the newspaper in 2015, she spent seven years as a metro reporter for the Miami Herald and two years as a government reporter in the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau. She speaks Spanish and holds degrees from Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Phone: (727) 893-8330

Email: kmcgrory@tampabay.com

Twitter: @kmcgrory

 

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  1. Genetic study leads to an intriguing question: Do blue eyes make you a drinker?

    Health

    As she polished off a pina colada at a St. Petersburg tiki bar called the Getaway, Shay Anthony pondered whether her striking blue-green eyes had anything to do with her social drinking habits.

    "It's a bizarre question," she said, glancing at her hazel-eyed boyfriend, Brandon Baker. "I've never really thought about it."

    She paused.

    "So I have an excuse if I'm an alcoholic?"

    The question arose on the heels of a widely read study suggesting a link between eye color and alcohol dependence. Its conversation-sparking conclusion: People with baby blues are more likely to be excessive drinkers than people with darker eyes....

    “I don’t know that many alcoholics or blue-eyed people.”
Peter Krull, at the Getaway with his wife, Lori Krull, both of St. Petersburg
  2. Multiple factors at work as many brace for higher health insurance premiums in 2016

    Health

    The Affordable Care Act has weathered its share of punches in recent weeks, including a Supreme Court challenge that could have led to its unraveling.

    Its next bout could hit consumers in the pocketbook.

    In Florida, several big-name insurance providers — including Aetna, Cigna, Coventry and United Healthcare — have already proposed double-digit rate increases for individual health insurance plans, federal records show. ...

  3. Scott veto of money to free clinics decried as another blow to poor, uninsured Floridians

    Health

    CLEARWATER — As patients streamed into the Clearwater Free Clinic with a range of medical concerns Tuesday, clinic administrators were contemplating an altogether different problem: the sudden appearance of a $100,000 hole in their $950,000 operating budget.

    Cutting staff is not an option, executive director Jeannie Shapiro said. Neither is cutting programs.

    "We're going to have to find (more) funding," Shapiro said....

    After her appointment at the Clearwater Free Clinic, Tuesday, Maria Marelli, left, of Oldsmar  received a bag with her cholesterol medicine as Ann Michell, RN, schedules a followup appointment at the clinic's checkout desk. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  4. More women in their 30s and 40s are having babies

    Health

    Advanced maternal age.

    The three words make Laura Byrne cringe.

    Byrne, of Tampa, will be almost 35 when she gives birth to her second child next month, making her an "older mom" in the eyes of her doctor. But she doesn't regret having waited to have a family, she said. It enabled her to pursue a fast-paced career in TV news, meet the right husband and achieve financial stability.

    Besides, said Byrne, who is taking some time off from her career, "being an 'older mom' is the new norm."...

    Laura Byrne, 34, who is pregnant with her second child, plays with her 2-year-old, J.R., in Kate Jackson Community Center in Tampa on Thursday, June 25, 2015. The national birth rate is on the rise for the first time in seven years -- and it's largely because more women in their 30s and 40s are having kids. 
JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  TIMES
  5. High court ruling on Obamacare brings relief to consumers, hospitals, insurers

    Courts

    In a broad decision that left little room for future legal challenges, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 on Thursday to preserve the health insurance subsidies available under President Barack Obama's signature health law.

    "The Affordable Care Act is here to stay," the president declared from the Rose Garden.

    Prominent Republicans, including presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, vowed to continue fighting the law politically, foreshadowing its potential role in the 2016 election....

    Students outside of the Supreme Court cheer after the court ruled on Thursday that the Affordable Care Act may provide nationwide tax subsidies to help poor and middle-class people buy health insurance. In Florida, 1.3 million people would have lost their financial aid for insurance had the ruling gone the other way.
  6. Federal report cites drop in Floridians without insurance

    Health

    The share of Floridians without health insurance dropped nearly 6 percentage points to 18.8 percent after key parts of the Affordable Care Act took effect, according to federal data released Tuesday.

    The slide from 2013 to 2014 mirrored a nationwide trend for people under 65.

    Florida's newly insured included Lizzie Jimenez, a nursing student at St. Petersburg College who had gone without health insurance coverage since she was a child....

  7. Obamacare foes in Congress see help for low-income constituents if court rules against law

    Health

    Most members of Tampa Bay's predominantly Republican congressional delegation would vote to maintain financial aid — at least temporarily — for the 6.4 million Americans at risk of losing their health insurance subsidies if the U.S. Supreme Court rules against the Affordable Care Act.

    The ruling, expected this week or next, will determine whether people in states with federally run insurance exchanges are eligible for the subsidies, which help offset the cost of coverage....

    U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor greets the audience during the 35th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Breakfast hosted by the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs on Monday, January 19, 2015. #tampabayMLK
  8. Tampa Bay area hospitals dodge deep cuts in charity care funds, but worry about next year

    Health

    TAMPA — The hospitals that serve Tampa Bay's poorest residents aren't likely to face crippling cuts in the upcoming fiscal year after all, according to an analysis released Wednesday.

    Tampa General Hospital would lose only about $486,000 in taxpayer aid under the budget deal reached late Monday — a far cry from the $70 million in cuts hospital executives feared they might shoulder. All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine in St. Petersburg would actually see its revenues increase by about $716,000, the analysis found....

    In his appearance Wednesday before the Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding, James Burkhart, CEO of Tampa General Hospital, said Florida must still resolve its issues with the federal-state program that reimburses hospitals for charity care.
  9. Rick Scott's hospital commission comes to town amid tensions over health spending

    Health

    Gov. Rick Scott's Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding may seem like just another toothless task force.

    But the nine-member panel, which meets in Tampa today, has touched off tensions between the Republican governor and Florida's public and nonprofit hospitals.

    Scott wants the commission to investigate how taxpayer-supported hospitals spend their money, especially when it comes to lobbyists, political campaigns and advertising....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding comprises nine members, but only one of them is a doctor.
  10. Humana, HCA contract dispute threatens coverage, but both sides hope for resolution

    Health

    Some Florida seniors may no longer be able to use their Medicare benefits at hospitals run by Hospital Corporation of America.

    The insurance company Humana sent a letter with that news to its Medicare and commercial customers in Florida last week because its contract with the for-profit HCA runs out July 10. The correspondence was accompanied by information on other health care providers in the network....

  11. High court ruling against Obamacare would put pressure on Florida families, lawmakers

    Health

    Nicole Peterson already struggles to provide for her three daughters with the $36,000 she makes managing a Kenneth City day care center.

    If she were to lose her $150-a-month health insurance subsidy from the federal government?

    "That's an electric or a water bill, or groceries and gas," Peterson said. "These aren't luxuries. These are things we need for survival."

    So in between 11-hour days at the child care center and the demands of being a single mom, Peterson looks for updates on the U.S. Supreme Court case known as King vs. Burwell. The decision, expected this month, will determine whether she and 6.4 million other Americans continue receiving the subsidies associated with the Affordable Care Act....

    President Barack Obama addresses the crowd at a rally at St. Petersburg College's Seminole Campus on Saturday. SPC -Seminole is the president's first stop on a two-day bus tour through Florida. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  12. Can't keep up with the health care debate in Tallahassee? This Q&A breaks it down

    Legislature

    It has been a head-spinning time in Tallahassee. Lawmakers adjourned the 2015 legislative session last month without finishing a state budget, then returned last week for a special session and finally reached some consensus over the weekend.

    At issue: how to compensate hospitals that provide health care for the state's low-income residents.

    For those who haven't followed every twist and turn, here's a look at the developments so far and where lawmakers stand on the budget:...

  13. White House pushes Medicaid expansion in advance of Florida vote

    State Roundup

    Expanding Medicaid could keep an additional 900 Floridians alive each year and lead to 2 million more physician visits, according to a report released Thursday by the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

    The report was published hours before the state House of Representatives began discussing a controversial proposal to expand federally subsidized health insurance to hundreds of thousands of low-income Floridians. ...

  14. Faith-based leaders united Republicans, Democrats to reduce Florida youth arrests

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — James Myles is more comfortable mentoring troubled teenagers in St. Petersburg than glad-handing lawmakers in the Florida Capitol.

    Yet that's where he found himself earlier this year.

    Myles, an elder at Bethel Community Baptist Church and director of its truancy intervention program, was part of a loose-knit coalition of activists, faith-based leaders and service providers who traveled to Tallahassee to change the way Florida law treats juvenile offenders. They were pushing for an expansion of civil citations, an alternative to arrest....

    James Myles of St. Petersburg directs Bethel Community Baptist Church’s truancy intervention program.
  15. Rick Scott floats health care ideas to HHS

    Blog

    Gov. Rick Scott floated a few broad ideas for expanding health care coverage in a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell on Tuesday.

    The letter, first reported by Politico, asked several questions intended to guide the governor's new Commission on Hospital and Healthcare Funding. Among them: Would the federal government be willing to give Florida a block grant to expand coverage? ...