Sammy Mack

Sammy Mack loves public radio and public policy.

Mack is the Miami-based education reporter for StateImpact Florida. She is a St. Petersburg native and a product of Florida public schools. She even took the first FCAT.

Mack previously was a digital editor and health care policy reporter for WLRN - Miami Herald News, where she covered the public health and health policy beat. For two years, her health reporting with WLRN was supported by the grant-funded HealthyState.org project. She was selected as a 2012 fellow with the Kaiser Health News and NPR Health Care Reporting in the States project.

Her stories have also appeared on NPR, Monocle 24, the Miami Herald, Global Health, HealthNewsFlorida.org, 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 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.

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Power Of Price
6:58 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

The Secret Prices Of Health Care: How What You Don’t Know Can Cost You

Health care pricing is shrouded in secrecy.
Credit Marcolm / freedigitalphotos.net

When Uwe Reinhardt tries to explains the Gordian Knot of hospital pricing to his health care economics students at Princeton University, he has a go-to metaphor:

“It's almost like blindfolding people, shoving them into Macy's and saying, ‘buy — efficiently — for a shirt.’ Well you come out with a pair of shorts,” says Reinhardt.

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Power Of Price
2:00 am
Tue September 16, 2014

When Transparency Isn't Always Enough: A Conversation On Health Care Pricing

Credit freedigitalphotos.net

In our Power of Price series, we’ve been exploring how the secrecy shrouding health care pricing can raise costs — the cost of the care itself and the cost to employees who get their insurance through work.

There’s a movement to make those prices more transparent. More than a dozen other states have started something called an “all-payer claims database.”

These databases track what actually gets paid for care at different hospitals by various insurers. They can be used to analyze the true cost of health care and make it public.

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Power Of Price
1:57 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Health Care Pricing Is Complicated. Here's A Beginner's Guide.

If only health care financing was this straightforward.
Credit Pakorn / freedigitalphotos.net

Figuring out the real price of health care is complicated — even if you've already paid your bills. You can hear just how complicated it is here:

And if health care pricing wasn’t convoluted enough, it’s hard to talk about it without running into some conversation-stopping jargon. Words that mean one thing to the rest of the English-speaking world can mean something completely different in health care — like a “charge” that isn’t the same as the price.

To help clarify, here’s a glossary of common terms in the world of health care finance:

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The Sunshine Economy
6:55 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Power Of Price: A Special Hour On Health Care's Complexity, Secrecy And Cost In South Florida

Patients can know what health care costs them, but can they really know what it costs?
Credit phasinphoto / freedigitalphotos.net

  Almost a year and a half ago, Mt. Sinai Medical Center CEO Steve Sonenreich pledged on WLRN to make public what insurance companies pay his hospital.

He later told us that because of non-disclosure agreements between the hospital and the region’s insurance companies, he legally couldn’t share that information after all.

It turns out these secrecy agreements are standard practice between South Florida insurers and hospitals.

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The Florida Roundup
10:04 am
Fri August 8, 2014

The Florida Roundup: How Redistricting Impacts Voters

The redistricting process began Thursday in Tallahassee.
Credit Florida House of Representatives / floridaredistricting.org

    

  This week on the Florida Roundup: Florida lawmakers race the clock to fix voting maps recently ruled unconstitutional. What could this mean for Sunshine State voters heading into the 2014 Elections?

Join guest host Christine DiMattei and a panel of the region’s top journalists for a conversation about how redistricting impacts Florida voters.

Some of the other stories we’ll be addressing:

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The Florida Roundup
10:59 am
Fri July 25, 2014

The Florida Roundup: Taking The "Affordable" Out Of The Affordable Care Act?

Health insurance subsidies are on shaky ground after two contradictory court rulings.
Credit cooldesign / freedigitalphotos.net

This week on the Florida Roundup, we're exploring why subsidies to help nearly a million Floridians buy health insurance are on shaky ground.

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Money And Schools
5:11 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

How Miami-Dade Schools' Superintendent Would Like To Spend $2.9 Billion

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is working on plans for a $2.9 billion budget.
Credit Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

The public got a sneak peak of the proposed budget for Miami-Dade County Public Schools at its most recent budget workshop.

It’s not final yet, but the superintendent has sketched out a plan for the $2.9 billion budget.

You can hear more on where school leaders would like the money to go:

And you can see the presentation from the meeting:

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Florida Standards Assessments
4:51 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Check Out The Practice Questions For The New FCAT Replacement

Credit freedigitalphotos.net

The Florida Department of Education has released practice questions for the new assessments that will replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test next year.

The tests, which are aligned to the new Common Core-based Florida Standards, are available at the Florida Standards Assessments website.  Some questions are similar to what students might have seen on the FCAT—asking test-takers to identify main ideas in a text or figure out a percentage in a word problem.

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Governor's Race
5:39 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Charlie Crist Says He'll Release Nearly 25 Years Of Tax Returns

Charlie Crist talks politics at the offices of the United Teachers of Dade.
Credit Sammy Mack / WLRN

Charlie Crist announced he’ll release his tax returns going back nearly 25 years.

“I would challenge Rick Scott to do the same,” said Crist at an event on Thursday.

Crist is running to be the democratic challenger to Gov. Rick Scott in November. Last week, Scott released three years of tax returns for himself and his wife. Republicans had been calling on Crist to submit his financial information, too.

While Crist’s disclosure goes back much further than Scott’s, Crist drew the line at including his wife’s information.

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The End of the Road
4:09 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

WLRN-ify My Commute: Let Us Give Your Daily Drive The Public Radio Treatment

Let's go for a ride.
Credit tiverylucky / freedigitalphotos.net

We spend a lot of time together on the road, you (audience) and us (WLRN). If you’re like most of our listeners, we’re with you in the car just about every day -- through your speakers, at least.

But we want to take it to the next level: We want to actually get in the car with your family, your friends, your coworkers.

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Arts
9:30 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Listen To Patrick Stewart On Reading Shakespeare For The First Time

Sammy Mack interviews Patrick Stewart about reading Shakespeare for the first time.
Credit Maria Murriel

Before Sir Patrick Stewart quit high school at 15 years old, an English teacher handed him a copy of "The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare and told Stewart to read the part of Shylock. That one act changed everything for the working-class teenager from Yorkshire, England. Hear him talk about reading Shakespeare for the first time.

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Broward Bond
5:08 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Broward School Board Asks Voters For $800 Million Bond

The $800 million would go towards school renovations and technology upgrades.
Credit ddpavumba / freedigitalphotos.net

Broward County voters will have a big decision to make about school funding in November.

The School Board of Broward County School approved a resolution to put a bond vote on the fall ballot.

Broward schools are asking for $800 million — most of which will go towards school renovations and technology upgrades, says Superintendent Robert Runcie.

The school district has to overcome a reputation damaged by a history of mismanagement and corruption.

You can hear more here:

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Brown V. Board of Education
11:47 am
Mon June 9, 2014

What Desegregation Was Like In Miami

Miami-Dade County schools were some of the first in Florida to desegregate.
Credit Marlin Levison / Miami Herald

Brown v. Board of Education — the Supreme Court decision declaring segregated schools were inherently unequal — turns 60 years old this year.

Earlier this week, we brought you memories from students and teachers who were there in the early days of desegregation.

And now, with decades of perspective, here are some of the things they learned from integration:

"You don't get black or white from kids"

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Newscast
9:29 am
Fri June 6, 2014

June 6, 2014: Saving Corals, Latin American Prisoners, VA Hospital Lawsuit

Today on WLRN-Miami Herald News, you heard:

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Books
11:32 am
Tue June 3, 2014

From Miami To The Middle East: Journalist Nathan Deuel On His New Memoir

Journalist Nathan Deuel chatted with WLRN about fatherhood, the Middle East and Miami.
Credit Sammy Mack / WLRN

 

Journalist Nathan Deuel grew up in South Florida, but in 2008 he and his wife, Kelly McEvers, moved to the Middle East. 

During their five years abroad, they had their first child and McEvers became NPR’s Baghdad bureau chief. The family moved around the region as the Arab Spring erupted. 

Deuel has written a memoir about that experience, called "Friday Was The Bomb." He’ll be speaking tonight at Books & Books in Coral Gables at 8 p.m. 

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