Lottie Watts

Lottie Watts is our Florida Matters producer, and she also covers health and health policy for Health News Florida.

She earned a master’s degree in journalism and media studies from University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where she was the editor and graduate assistant at the Neighborhood News Bureau. She earned a bachelor of science in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University, where she interned at WSTM-TV and WSYR-TVHer work has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine State Awards and SPJ's Green Eyeshade Awards. 

Contact Lottie by email or phone: 813-974-8705. 

In previous legislative sessions, lawmakers have failed to make changes to the state employee group insurance. The issue is expected to come up again this session.

In July 2015, emergency responders in Manatee County handled more than 200 heroin overdose calls. And the repeat overdose calls alone are nearly three times what the overall total was for July 2014.

If you're talking about older people and sex, you have to talk to Kate GeMeiner.

"I'm also known as Doctor Truth, the Condom Lady," the 85-year-old says.

GeMeiner lives in Broward County, and spends a lot of her time at senior centers, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants to add new regulations to additional tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, pipe tobacco and cigars.

The proposed regulations are not going down well in Tampa's Ybor City, which has been rolling out cigars since 1886.

When a hurricane is approaching, everyone needs to have a plan in place. When you have medical needs, that preparation becomes even more critical.

Dr. Theo Sai is the chief medical officer for senior products for Humana in Central Florida.  He's also lived through several hurricanes.  

“I remember the worst one for me was in the Bahamas, where I was on the first floor and it was a pretty bad hurricane, and Nassau typically floods a lot,” Said said.

When he offers advice on preparing for hurricanes, it comes from his own experience.

 

 A bill that would increase access to epinephrine auto-injectors used for treating allergic reactions is headed to Florida Gov. Rick Scott's desk.

The Hillsborough County School Board has reached a settlement with the family of a student who drowned in 2012.

The school board approved the settlement with the parents of Jennifer Caballero, a 7th grade student with Down syndrome who drowned in a retention pond after wandering away from her gym class at Rodgers Middle School.

School Board Vice Chair Susan Valdes said this tragedy will live with them for a long, long time to come.

According to the latest "F as in Fat" report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Florida still has a serious obesity problem. 

Although the rate decreased slightly from 26.6 percent in 2011 to 25.2 percent in 2012, researchers say the lower numbers aren't statistically significant. They call the changes a "leveling off," not a decrease.

Across the country, every state except for Arkansas had a slightly lower adult obesity rate. Researchers caution there's still a long way to go, and note people who are obese are at risk for much worse health outcomes and higher health costs. 

"The numbers were essentially flat from last year," said Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health. "That's the first time  in the 10 years we've been doing this report, and in the many years the CDC has been following theses trends, that we've seen that kind of leveling off, so that's a very hopeful sign."

State Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Jacksonville, says the debate over how exactly to implement the Affordable Care Act in Florida is far from over. State Sen. Aaron Bean tells Health News Florida's Lottie Watts why Medicaid expansion failed during the 2013 legislative session.

State Sen. Aaron Bean's bare-bones Florida Health Choices Plus plan is no longer an alternative to Medicaid expansion in Florida.

The House Appropriations Committee today passed HB 7169, a measure that creates a program called Florida Health Choices Plus, that will cover about 115,000 people.