Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Justine Griffin

Justine Griffin

Justine Griffin covers health and medicine for the Tampa Bay Times. She is a native Floridian who spent most of her childhood in Pasco County. She previously wrote about business news. Prior to coming to the Times in 2015, she worked for the St. Augustine Record, the Sun Sentinel and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, where she gained national attention for her retail coverage and for a longform article she wrote about her experience as an egg donor. Justine is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she studied journalism. She's an equestrian. Her horse is named Mikey.

About 1.5 million people across the country have signed up through healthcare.gov in the first 11 days of the six-week enrollment period for 2018. That's up from about 1 million last year at this time.

In Tampa Bay and elsewhere, early numbers show record sign-ups for Obamacare

Despite the budget cuts, the attempts to repeal and replace, and reports of sharp rises in premiums, Floridians and other Americans are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at record rates this year.Enrollment has...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
This screenshot shows part of a computer brain-training exercise that asks participants to quickly identify objects like the two vehicles in the center and stay focused on them, even as distracting images like the road signs around the edges try to throw them off. During a study on how such exercises can reduce the risk of dementia, the exercises got more difficult as people mastered them. [Photo courtesy of USF]

Study: Mental quickness exercises can lower risk of dementia

Where did I leave my keys?As we age, it can take longer to answer a question like that.Humans begin to lose cognitive ability at age 25. Dementia, or the decline of memory most commonly seen in aging adults, takes hold early on and is...
Published: 11/16/17
Jeff Houghtaling, manager at U.S. Cryotherapy, helps Tampa Bay Times health and medicine reporter Justine Griffin out of a cryotherapy chamber, where the temperature was 180 degrees below zero. Griffin said the she had a hard time keeping her breathing even while in the chamber and the experience gave her a headache, but she felt alert and awake. Others say the therapy has helped ease their chronic pain. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]

Exploring cryotherapy: The room is 180 degrees below zero, but it sort of feels good

This was colder than the time I skied through a snow storm in the Swiss Alps. It was even colder than when I fell through a sheet of ice into a frozen lake in Colorado. This was a cold I had never experienced. The kind that makes your teeth...
Published: 11/12/17
Updated: 11/15/17
Bayfront Health St. Petersburg is owned by Community Health Systems, which stated in a recent SEC filing that federal officials are demanding documents related to funds for low-income patients. Bayfront Health also is facing another development -- a decision next week on whether it will be allowed to buy out the charitable foundation that owns a 20 percent stake in the hospital. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

Owner of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg faces federal inquiry over funds for low-income patients

The corporate owner of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg could be facing a serious federal investigation related to its commitment to take care of St. Petersburgís poorest residents.In its most recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange...
Published: 11/09/17
Updated: 11/14/17
Most hospitals in the Tampa Bay area don't track how often ride-sharing drivers drop off or pick up patients. But at Tampa General Hospital, pictured here, they are

When the goal is getting to the ER fast and cheap, some choose Uber over 911

Matt Lavin had just arrived in Charlottesville, Va., for a business trip when he started feeling sick.By the time he got to his hotel around 11 p.m., he felt excruciating pain.
Updated one month ago
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Oct. 12 that clears the way for potentially sweeping changes in health insurance, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers. But despite that action and other efforts to kill Obamacare, the law remains intact and the 2018 enrollment period starting Wednesday, Nov. 1. [DOUG MILLS | The New York Times]

Obamacare fact vs. fiction: What you need to know before open enrollment

Consumers are struggling to separate fact from fiction as the open enrollment period approaches for health insurance plans sold on the Affordable Care Actís federal exchange, advocates and insurance companies say.The controversial health care...
Updated one month ago
Dr. Kiran Patel, left, and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel, are putting up $200 million toward a new medical school in Clearwater run by Nova Southeastern University. Kiran Patel said Wednesday he will focus more on the couple's philanthropic efforts now that his managed health services company, Freedom Health Inc., has been acquired by Anthem Inc. [Photo courtesy of Nova Southeastern University]

Patel to focus on philanthropy after sale of Freedom Health

Now that Kiran Patel the entrepreneur has sold his managed health care services company, he plans to get more in touch with his other side, Kiran Patel the benefactor."I want to focus on the other things that I have started, from hospitality to...
Updated one month ago
Christopher Wittmann, a physician assistant, examines a patient for lower back pain at Trinity Pain Center in Pasco County. Outpatient health care visits like this are covered under Medicare Part B, which will see premium increases of more than 5 percent on average in 2018. Medicare open enrollment begins Sunday and runs through Dec. 7, with a special extension to Dec. 31 for people affected by the recent hurricanes. [Times | 2014]

For many, rising premiums for Part B Medicare will erase Social Security gains

More than 2.4 million seniors in Florida rely on Medicare, and a good chunk of them could face rising health care premiums next year. With Medicare's annual open enrollment period beginning Sunday, most of the changes to plans and services seem...
Updated one month ago
Florida is one of the biggest players in Medicare, with more than 2.4 million people enrolled, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. While most enrollees tend to stick with the plans they know and have used before, there are some subtle changes to Medicare Advantage plans for 2018 that could affect some benefits. [Getty Images/iStockphoto]

Navigating Medicare enrollment: What you need to know for 2018

When we think of October, candy corn, jack-o'-lanterns and cooler, dry weather are top of mind.But for Floridians looking for health care coverage, early October also signals that Medicare enrollment is just around the corner. Oct. 15...
Updated one month ago
A marijuana plant awaits judging in the Oregon Cannabis Growers' Fair last year. In Florida, more than 39,000 residents have signed up through the state health department to receive medical marijuana as a form of treatment for a list of qualifying illnesses since the registry opened in 2016. But some say their state-approved physicians seem tentative in their knowledge about the substance. [Associated Press]

Are Florida doctors prepared to treat patients with medical marijuana?

Some patients are finding themselves in the examining room with physicians who seem tentative, unable to speak with much authority on the subject.
Updated one month ago