Officials at one of the nation's largest hospital chains have made a powerful argument to defend their unprecedented expansion of Florida's trauma system:
Hospital Corporation of America is saving lives....
The Safety Net Hospital Alliance, which represents 12 Florida trauma centers, says there are clear abuses in the way hospitals are levying "trauma response" fees, and it would support legislation to rein in overcharging.
But Hospital Corporation of America, which a yearlong Tampa Bay Times investigation revealed to have the highest average trauma fees ever seen in Florida, is not part of that group. A relative newcomer to the Florida trauma market, it operates five of the state's 25 adult trauma centers. It charges as much as $33,000 for what is effectively a cover charge, even charging patients who are not seriously injured....
Last year in western Pasco County, 16-year-old Mason Jwanouskos was in the backseat of a convertible when his friend lost control and crashed into a stone pillar.
He couldn't have picked a more expensive place to get hurt....
Story BY LETITIA STEIN AND ALEXANDRA ZAYAS | Photos by John Pendygraft | Times...
When it comes to the trauma response fee, patients can wind up paying tens of thousands of dollars extra based on nothing more than geography and chance.
Consider the case of Eric Leonhard, a Fort Pierce boat captain whose rented limousine crashed in November 2012.
Leonhard and 15 friends were blocks away from their Vero Beach destination when their driver ran a red light into the path of a Jeep. Leonhard was rushed to the closest trauma center, Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, which has some of the highest response fees in the state....
To examine how Florida trauma centers bill their patients, the Tampa Bay Times relied on billing data collected by state health officials from hospitals across the state.
The databases, maintained by the Agency for Health Care Administration, include diagnosis, treatment and hospital charge information for every patient seen in an emergency room or admitted to a Florida hospital.
The database does not identify patients by name or address....
Tampa Bay residents are being bombarded by menacing advertisements that accuse three leading hospitals of trying to "pull the plug on lifesaving care all over Florida."
Tampa General, St. Joseph's and Bayfront hospitals are the targets of a political-style campaign spearheaded by the 60 Plus Association, a conservative advocacy group that doesn't disclose where it gets its money. But it has acknowledged spending $250,000 on its "Save Our Trauma Centers" drive, with companion ads airing in Ocala and Tallahassee....
President Barack Obama's signature health care law is drawing tepid support in the Tampa Bay region, a new poll shows, with a majority of residents saying they basically like it or are at least willing to let it play out.
But the Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and AM 820 News poll also found that 35 percent of residents in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties would like to repeal the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. Support among the rest was marginal....
For three years, Florida's most prominent hospitals have been fighting over who gets the business of treating the most seriously injured patients. Now, they are gearing up for what could be a decisive final round in 2014.
This week, several of the state's longest-operating trauma centers — including St. Joseph's Hospital and Tampa General Hospital — asked state courts to order that the new trauma centers in Pasco and Manatee counties be closed....
The HCA hospital chain this week won a bidding war for Citrus Memorial Hospital in Inverness, securing its fourth new hospital this year in an ambitious expansion of its already large footprint in the Tampa Bay region.
HCA beat out Tampa General Hospital for Citrus Memorial, one of the region's last independent hospitals. Citrus Memorial leaders voted Monday night to partner with HCA, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain, at a time of extensive consolidation in health care....
The Pinellas Republican leaders are calling for the resignation State Committeeman Dan Tucker over his insensitive remarks about a Pinellas County Commissioner's battle with cancer.
In a statement released late on Monday afternoon, Pinellas GOP chairman Michael Guju said the party has been trying to handle the matter internally through conversations with Tucker....
TAMPA — Saying they will be stronger as a team, leaders of Tampa General Hospital and the Florida Hospital system announced Tuesday they are joining forces to develop new health care services around the bay area.
They didn't say exactly what those offerings might be, but emphasized that they are joining only for new ventures, not consolidating existing operations. Each side will contribute $1 million to establish a board that will figure out how they could partner. ...
Five years ago, I had a crazy idea. What if we created a blog devoted to deals and fashion finds? An outlet for girlfriends to dish and brag about shopping scores. We'd call ourselves the Deal Divas.
This was back in the dark days of the recession -- actually prime time for bargain hunting. Since then, I've blogged about everything from the decision to splurge on designer jeans (do it) to discovering the joy of elastic waistbands with a swelling baby bump....
The nation's largest for-profit hospital chain, HCA, announced Thursday it is buying three Tampa Bay hospitals — Palms of Pasadena Hospital, Memorial Hospital of Tampa and Town & Country Hospital.
An HCA spokeswoman declined to share the purchase price for the hospitals, currently owned by IASIS Healthcare. Both HCA and IASIS are for-profits based in Tennessee. The deal should close by the year's end....
Let's talk about three of my favorite things: Sales, shopping and comfy P.J.'s. Celebrate them all tomorrow at the 40th annual St. Petersburg Sunrise Sale.
Yes, that's 40th annual. Because a fabulous event never goes out of fashion.
Here's how it works: Beginning at 6:43 a.m., you can roll out of bed and hit the downtown St. Petersburg stores in your jammies. You'll find freebies galore, plus savings of up to 75 percent at beloved local stores like RoCo Traders, the Florida Craftsmen gift shop and In Search of Balance. Here's a map of participants....