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Tampa Bay 29 articles

National Medicare fraud crackdown uncovers $233 million in false billings

A federal crackdown on Medicare fraud in eight cities nationwide has led to charges against 89 individuals, including doctors, nurses, and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in fraud schemes that resulted in about $233 million in false Medicare billings, the U.S. Justice Department has announced. The crackdown was the sixth such operation orchestrated by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force since it was first formed in 2007. The task force now operates under the federal Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative created by the Justice Department and the Department of Health and ... Read More

Gulf divers blame BP oil spill, chemical dispersants for strange illnesses

More than three years after BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion set off the worst oil spill in U.S. history, divers who worked in the vicinity of the spill collecting coral samples and taking journalists to the spill site say they are still suffering from a spectrum of illnesses they blame on their exposure to the contaminated Gulf waters. Scott Porter, a professional diver with a degree in marine biology, told the Tampa Bay Times that federal officials “kept telling us it was safe” to dive in the Gulf, so he and some fellow divers continued their work. At the time, Mr. ... Read More

Toxic oil, tar continue to wash ashore in Alabama years after BP oil spill

Tests conducted on the chunks of tar that continue to wash up along Alabama’s shoreline contain exactly the same chemical fingerprint as oil from BP’s massive 2010 oil spill, meaning the oily matter originates from the blown-out Macondo well that fed the Deepwater Horizon rig before it exploded and sank. As if that weren’t bad enough, scientific analyses have found all this tar is still loaded with highly toxic cancer-causing contaminants more than three years later. Reporters from Montgomery’s WSFA-TV 12 took a short walk on Orange Beach in March and collected two pounds of tar they found there. They then took ... Read More

Some Gulf species in peril after BP oil spill, but seafood marketers upbeat

When the Tampa Bay Times published an article about the number of sick fish that continue to turn up in the Gulf of Mexico three years after BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition offered to send the reporter on an all-expenses-paid trip to New Orleans to sample delicious, wholesome, safe Gulf seafood. As the Times reported, the writer declined the generous invitation, but the fact that it was extended demonstrates how nervous the Gulf seafood industry continues to be in the wake of such an epic disaster. It also demonstrates the tough dichotomy the Gulf seafood ... Read More

Die off, disease, mutation in wake of BP oil spill concern scientists

Three years after BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster unleashed the nation’s worst oil spill, a group of University of South Florida scientists have found evidence of a massive die-off at the base of the Gulf of Mexico’s food chain – a troubling sign that sea life in the area is far from returning to normal. David Hollander, a USF chemical oceanographer, told the Tampa Bay Times that a die-off of tiny foraminifera stretches into the mile-deep DeSoto Canyon where BP’s Macondo well blew out in April 2010. From there the die-off emanates throughout the Gulf waters, following the trails forged by ... Read More

City of Tampa considers suing BP for oil spill damages

Tampa, Florida has joined the list of municipalities considering taking legal action against BP over revenues it alleges to have lost amid the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, which plagued the Gulf Coast for months in 2010. The Tampa Tribune reports that city officials may hire a law firm to determine whether the city has a legitimate claim for damages against BP. Although no oil or tar from the BP oil spill reached Tampa’s shores, millions of Florida-bound vacationers canceled their trips as a cloud of uncertainty about the spill’s size and direction hovered over the Gulf of Mexico in ... Read More

St. Pete Beach sues BP over economic losses tied to Gulf oil spill

Although no oil from BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill reached the shores of St. Pete Beach, Florida, a lot of bad press and cancelled reservations did. Now the city is taking legal action against the oil giant in an attempt to recover lost revenues officials say were the result when millions of gallons of oil flooded the Gulf. The spill generated fear and uncertainty about where the oil slick would go and prompted visitors from all over to vacation somewhere else. Other municipalities in Florida and the other Gulf states have sued BP for lost tourism revenues, but St. ... Read More

Whistleblower receives $21 million for exposing health care fraud

A former senior financial analyst for a Florida-based health plan provider will receive nearly $21 million for his role in exposing his employer’s fraudulent business practices, which involved double billing Medicare and Medicaid. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Sean Hellein, who worked for WellCare Health Plans in Tampa, secretly recorded company executives in 2006 discussing ways to double bill the government health programs. As an administer of managed-care plans for 2.6 million Medicare and Medicaid patients, WellCare is required to refund a percentage of unspent funds. Mr. Hellein’s information led to an FBI raid on WellCare’s Tampa headquarters in ... Read More

Tampa Bay Rays’ Howell undergoes season-ending shoulder surgery

Just as the baseball season was getting underway, Tampa Bay Rays J.P. Howell had surgery on his left shoulder, ending his season prematurely. The left-handed reliever had to stop a simulated game last week just after starting because of discomfort in his shoulder. Two days later he was in surgery. Howell is expected to be recovered enough to play in the 2011 season. “We certainly knew that it was a possibility. We went through the rehab process in a very methodical way to give us the best chance to get him back on the mound, and it didn’t work,” executive ... Read More