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 A Green Eyeshade Award for Investigative Journalism, and 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

VCU and RWJF

Your life expectancy depends a lot on where you live—down to the very neighborhood, according to a new analysis from Virginia Commonwealth University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The distance between Downtown Miami and the city’s Overtown neighborhood is about a mile. The difference between life expectancies in those two places? Fifteen years.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

On Wednesday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez unveiled a new plan he hopes will prevent shooting deaths of children.

More than 100 children in the county have been killed by gun violence over past three years.

At 85 years old, Alpha Edwards did not expect to be out of savings or to have $3,000 of credit card debt.

"I don't do anything that costs money," Edwards says. "I can't."

The problem started four years ago, when Edwards moved to Miami Springs, Fla., with her little brown dog. Her husband had recently died, and Edwards wanted to be closer to her daughter.

Edwards regularly sees doctors for her chronic lung disease and her pacemaker. And not long after she moved, she needed a cardiac procedure.

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

The Republican presidential candidates gathered at the University of Miami for its last debate before the Florida primary on Tuesday.

U.S.-CUBA RELATIONS

America’s changing relationship with Cuba was part of the discussion at last night’s Republican primary debate.

Donald Trump said he doesn’t agree entirely with President Barack Obama’s diplomatic openings with Cuba, but something needs to change.

“After 50 years, it’s enough time, folks," said Trump. But we have to make a good deal.”

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

By now, their stump speeches are refined: They’ve got the jokes down, the stats memorized, and the crowds hyped. But as Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump rounded out their Super Tuesday in Florida—which did not hold its primary that day—it was clear that Florida was a powerful state, not just in the general election, but also in the primary to be held on March 15.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King was in Miami on Friday to launch a new national mentorship effort to reduce absenteeism in school. It’s part of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative—a White House-supported project to close opportunity gaps among young men of color.

The mentoring initiative is a partnership between Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Department of Education. Miami is one of 10 launch cities. From the White House announcement:

Sammy Mack / WLRN

Back when Laura Rollins first used food stamps for her family—more than two decades ago—she was sometimes embarrassed to use her  stamps at the grocery store.

“When we used to have those books of food stamps that you know that to me was embarrassing because that was telling everybody that was around me and letting them know that, ‘oh, she’s poor,’” Rollins recalls.

Rollins is nearly 64 years old and lives in Fort Lauderdale. Her three boys are grown. She works part time at MacDonald’s and takes care of her great-grandbabies a couple of days a week.

stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A piece of legislation that would stop surprise medical bills is one step closer to becoming law.

The “Out of Network Health Insurance Coverage” bill was passed by the Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Tuesday.

Daylina Miller / Health News Florida

Leaders from the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics went to Tallahassee Thursday to personally ask lawmakers to keep them in the budget this year.

What they’re asking for: at least $4.5 million in appropriations to serve 14,000  more uninsured Floridians

“These clinics play a critical role,” says Nick Duran, head of the association.

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

On a recent Wednesday morning, a handful of 10th grade English students from Somerset Academy donned 3-D glasses and stepped into Elizabethan London.

Their tour guide warned them to watch out for rats carrying plague.

 

“This is so cool,” the students murmured as they stood outside the Globe Theater—a virtual rendering of it, anyway.

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.

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