Sammy Mack

Reporter

Public radio. Public health. Public policy.

Most days, Mack covers health care policy for WLRN – Miami Herald News. Her health care journalism is supported by a fellowship with the Kaiser Health News and NPR Health Care Reporting in the States project.

Like most folks who've worked at a member station, she's worn a lot of hats: interim digital editor during the re-launch of WLRN.org, assistant producer for The Florida Roundup, morning news producer, intern coordinator, party planner. She was one half of the StateImpact Florida education reporting team. 

Her stories have appeared on NPR, Monocle 24, the Miami Herald, Global Health, Health News Florida, Gambit Weekly, MAP Magazine, Gulfshore Life, Philadelphia Weekly, the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) and other outlets.

Mack’s work has been honored with Florida AP Broadcaster and SPJ Sunshine State awards. She’s collaborated on projects that have won a Third Coast International Audio Festival bronze award, an Emmy, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, a Wilbur Award and a Dart Award. Mack was a writing fellow during the 2008 Poynter Summer Fellowship for Young Journalists.

She was recognized by her colleagues as the 2011 Herald Top Chef. She’s happy to share her recipe for garam masala macarons with lemongrass filling.

Ways to Connect

Areeya / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last year, lawmakers in Tallahassee fought over how to fund health care for uninsured Floridians. Now two new reports say county leaders are the ones who really need to be concerned.

Funding for charity care—called Low Income Pool or LIP funding—is a match between state and federal money. And in Florida, that state contribution is funded by taxes from counties through a process known as intergovernmental transfers (IGTs).

Sammy Mack / WLRN

Busloads of public school teachers trundled up to Tallahassee on Thursday to give lawmakers a piece of their minds.

More than 1,000 teachers pressed into the plaza of the Capitol under a gray, 52-degree sky. Holding signs that read: “enough is enough,” the teachers chanted between speeches.

 

The rally was organized by the Florida Education Association, which represents Florida’s teachers’ unions — and it opposes Florida’s high-stakes testing and merit pay for teachers.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

Florida State Rep. Carlos Trujillo is in the middle of some pressing and controversial issues this legislative session.

The South Florida Republican sponsored one bill that would close a health insurance gap and another that would make it illegal for people who have been deported to come back into Florida.

And before session even started, he took heat from the gun lobby for his position on a Stand Your Ground bill.

Trujillo sat down in his Tallahassee office on the first day of session to talk about his expectations this year and what that means for Floridians:

Sammy Mack / WLRN

On the first day of session, the Florida statehouse smells like a flower shop. Bouquets of lilies and roses and orchids crowd the desks of the representatives and senators.

It’s just one tradition on a day full of first-day-back traditions.

You can hear a dispatch from the Capitol on this day full of pomp:

And here are some highlights from opening ceremonies:

Sammy Mack / WLRN

Linda Quick has been a force in Florida health care policy for decades.

Quick—who was born at Coral Gables Hospital—spent 40 years working in health care. The past two decades of that were with the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association, which represents hundreds of hospitals and health-care businesses on legislative and industry issues.

Quick has had an insider’s view of some of the biggest policy and economic events affecting the health of Floridians.

And as of January, she’s retired.

jk1991 via freedigitalphotos.net

This September, Florida’s top economist Amy Baker stood in front of the state’s Joint Legislative Budget Commission in Tallahassee and presented an economic forecast for the next few years. General revenue is expected to go up — but so is the cost of health care.

“Medicaid is by far and away our largest driver in this year’s long-range financial outlook,” Baker told lawmakers.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

This December has been one of the wettest on record for South Florida—and while it’s been a couple of days since the hard rains let up, there’s still standing water in fields across the Homestead area.

From the side of the road, you can see yellow squash plants, wilting and submerged in mud. Soft fungus and the pockmarks of rot scar the vegetables.

Security camera footage from the Barsotti family via Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald Tribune

Florida legislators have cut $100 million from the state’s mental health budget since 2009—and now an investigative series, “Insane. Invisible. In Danger.” by two Florida newspapers details how those cuts have put patients and staff in harm’s way.

courtesy Laura Brennaman

Not long after Sherry Poulin married her husband Louis last year, the newlyweds sat in their kitchen with health insurance information laid out in front of them.

“We were like, this is just not, this is not do-able,” says Sherry.

Before getting married, Poulin paid $50 a month for a subsidized plan through Obamacare. Now, for a plan offered through her husband’s employer, she was looking at about $500 a month.

Poulin married into what’s known as the “family glitch”: when she got married, she lost her subsidy to buy insurance in the individual marketplace.

Baitong333 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Florida legislators have been grappling with the problem of balance billing—also known as “surprise billing”—and now the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has proposed a broader rule aimed at fixing the issue.

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