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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. New treatment takes aim at pancreatic cancer with a targeted assault on the tumor

    Health

    TAMPA — David Allison knew better than most his chances of surviving pancreatic cancer.

    His brother and sister had died from the disease.

    "I figured it was the beginning of the end," said the 75-year-old retired milk truck driver, who spends his winters in Oldsmar.

    Allison tried fighting the cancer with conventional chemotherapy and radiation in April. But the treatment made him weak. His appetite disappeared. He lost nearly 30 pounds....

     Dr. Alex Rosemurgy talks to pancreatic cancer patient David Allison during a visit at Florida Hospital Tampa Thursday, Aug. 21, 2015.  Allison is receiving a new type of treatment that is killing his tumor without the nasty side effects of traditional chemotherapy.
  2. Families slammed by steep rate hikes in the Healthy Kids plan can seek refuge in Obamacare

    Health

    Jim Fike was among the thousands of Floridans who feared their families would be stuck with a Florida Healthy Kids insurance plan — even though the rates will double come Oct. 1.

    But this week brought some good news.

    On Thursday, federal health officials said they would allow the 36,000 Florida families affected by the rate hikes to purchase a new plan on the Obamacare marketplace without having to wait for the Nov. 1 start of open enrollment....

  3. Florida gives 7.7 percent rate increase to Medicaid insurers

    Health

    State health officials have approved a 7.7 percent rate increase for the private health plans covering Florida's poorest residents.

    The plans had asked for a $400 million raise plus a 12 percent rate increase, saying they needed the money to cover rising prescription drug costs and an unexpected uptick in doctors visits.

    But the state Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees Florida's $23 billion Medicaid program, wasn't willing to go that far....

  4. Premiums for Obamacare to rise 9.5 percent overall in Florida

    Health

    Floridians who purchase individual health insurance plans under Obamacare will see their premiums rise by an average of 9.5 percent next year, the state Office of Insurance Regulation said Wednesday.

    That's about $36 per month or $432 per year.

    The average rate change varies widely by insurance company.

    Four insurers offering plans on Florida's federally run Affordable Care Act insurance exchange will have average increases in the double digits: Aetna (13.9 percent), Humana (16.3 percent), Preferred Medical Plan (14 percent) and UnitedHealthcare (16.4 percent)....

  5. More locations, shorter waits put freestanding ERs in competition with hospitals

    Medicine

    CITRUS PARK — With its ambulance bay, clinical laboratory and sleek CT scanner, the new 24-hour medical facility near the Westfield Citrus Park Mall has the look and feel of a hospital.

    Only it's not. It's just an emergency room.

    The Citrus Park ER is one of four freestanding emergency rooms in the Tampa Bay area. It can receive patients with practically any acute illness or injury — although those needing surgery or specialized services must be taken to a full-service hospital after they are stabilized....

    The Citrus Park ER has the goal of getting patients in and out within 90 minutes. Some economists say these ERs may have a long-term effect of threatening hospitals by leaving a larger share of uninsured patients for traditional rooms.
  6. State expands program to audit hospitals, citing concerns about Medicaid fraud

    Health

    Another 100 Florida hospitals — 17 of which are in the Tampa Bay area — will be audited by the state to determine whether they're receiving more in Medicaid payments than legally allowed, Gov. Rick Scott said Monday.

    They join 29 hospitals already being audited for failing to provide information about their Medicaid contracts to the state Agency for Health Care Administration before Aug. 1. ...

  7. Without health insurance, USF student hurt in Cuba crash can't return home

    Human Interest

    The daughter of Cuban parents, Barbara Jimenez has dreams of attending law school after graduating from the University of South Florida. She wants to be a litigation lawyer.

    But earlier this month, she and her boyfriend, John Fox, were seriously injured in a car crash while visiting her family in Cuba. And because she doesn't have health insurance, she can't return to the United States for care. Flying her back could cost tens of thousands of dollars, her family said....

    Barbara Jimenez, who doesn't have insurance, and boyfriend John Fox were seriously injured in a car accident.
  8. Lawsuit by same-sex couples says Florida refused to name both parents on birth certificates

    Health

    Kari Chin's heart sank the first time she saw her son's birth certificate.

    She was named as the boy's mother. But her wife, Debbie, was not listed as a parent, even though Florida had begun allowing same-sex marriages two months earlier.

    "A birth certificate is more than just a piece of paper," said Chin, a school social worker who lives in St. Petersburg. "It's the first thing you see upon your child's birth. For it to only have one name didn't reflect the truth."...

    Debbie Chin holds 6-month-old Amzi at their house in St. Petersburg on Thursday. Debbie Chin and her spouse Kari are fighting to have their names put on the birth certificate of Amzi. [SCOTTY SCHENCK | Times]
  9. Florida to audit 31 hospitals amid concerns about health care costs

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — Amid statewide concern about the ballooning costs of Medicaid, state Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek said Wednesday she had ordered audits for 31 hospitals that may be receiving more in Medicaid payments than is legally allowed.

    The hospitals include Kindred Hospital Bay Area Tampa and Kindred Hospital Bay Area St. Petersburg.

    "We want to help them," Dudek said. "We want (Medicaid) to be successful. But we can't if everyone is not doing everything they need to do to contain costs."...

    State Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek has said some of the plans have been paying hospitals more than is legally allowed. [SCOTT KEELER | Times (2012)]
  10. Questionable Medicaid payments prompt audits of 31 Florida hospitals

    Blog

    Amid statewide concern about the ballooning costs of Medicaid, state Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek said Wednesday she had ordered audits for 31 hospitals that may be receiving more in Medicaid payments than is legally allowed.

    The hospitals include Kindred Hospital Tampa and Kindred Hospital St. Petersburg.

    “We want to help them,” Dudek said. “We want (Medicaid) to be successful. But we can’t if everyone is not doing everything they need to do to contain costs.”...

  11. Ready for another Medicaid debate? Program could cost Florida another $500 million next year

    Health

    Just weeks after a $1 billion hole in Florida's health care budget threatened to cause a government shutdown, another budget crisis could already be looming.

    State economists predict Medicaid will cost the state an additional $500 million in 2016-17, in large part because enrollment in the subsidized health care program is expected to grow.

    With the private health plans that cover Florida's Medicaid population already seeking more money from the state and hospitals requesting more for charity care, the need for an additional $500 million would be "impossible for the state to fulfill," Gov. Rick Scott said in a letter to state budget officials last week....

    A patient in Jackson, Miss., receives a flu vaccination.
  12. 'Sharing ministries' boom as the faithful look for ways to cover medical costs

    Health

    Becky Cowdery's family received two blessings in 2015.

    The first, she said, was when surgeons removed a cancerous tumor from her husband's esophagus.

    The second was when strangers helped pay the bills.

    Six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation, two surgeries and a 19-day hospital stay had left the Tampa family more than $15,000 in debt. But it wasn't long before checks from across the country started arriving in their mailbox, some accompanied by notes of prayer and encouragement....

    Becky Cowdery shows off some of  the dozens of cards and letters they received while John was getting treatment for esophageal cancer.
  13. Report: Florida's cancer-fighting laws fall short

    Health

    A new report suggests that Florida lawmakers have not done their part in the battle to prevent cancer, even as the disease kills tens of thousands of residents each year.

    The report, released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, examined nine areas of public policy that can help fight cancer, including restrictions on indoor tanning, prohibitions on smoking and funding for tobacco cessation programs....

  14. Nurses protest at St. Petersburg General Hospital, claiming staffing shortages

    Health

    ST. PETERSBURG — Dozens of nurses formed a picket line outside St. Petersburg General Hospital late Monday to protest insufficient staffing levels and "dismal" wages.

    The nurses, affiliated with the labor union National Nurses United, allege hospital administrators have routinely ignored the staffing plan meant to ensure high-quality patient care. They point to hospital data from December showing 44 of the 60 shifts in the Progressive Care Unit had too few nurses....

    Beth Walker, a registered nurse at Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville, cheers at the end of an informational picket and rally Monday at St. Petersburg General Hospital. Picket organizer National Nurses United is in contract talks with the hospital.
  15. Amid FDA talks, e-cigarette industry braces for change

    Health

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tyler Davis took a long drag on his e-cigarette and contemplated the sweet flavor that filled his lungs.

    "It tastes like Froot Loops," the 19-year-old said, sounding like a wine connoisseur identifying the notes in a fine Cabernet Sauvignon. "Or Lucky Charms."

    Davis makes weekly visits to City Vapor and E-Cig in St. Petersburg to sample the latest flavors of liquid nicotine. He vapes partly because of the low cost and partly because of the variety of flavors....

    Elaine Kennedy, owner of City Vapor and E-Cig, watches Tyler Davis, 19, try out a flavor of liquid nicotine that he said tasted like Lucky Charms cereal. Davis says “there are endless possibilities” for flavors, which is partly why he vapes.